Micro and small businesses from across County Durham are being offered professional support to help get back on track following the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Durham Business Opportunities Programme (DBOP) is a programme offering business support to SMEs in County Durham. Managed by Business Durham, the economic development arm of Durham County Council, DBOP is now launching the DBOP COVID Recovery Support, a programme for Micro and Small Businesses to help businesses boost sales and address the challenges arising from the pandemic.
The two–year programme will be delivered by the CDC Enterprise Agency and will offer one-to-one support sessions focusing on developing marketing and sales plans, upgrading existing websites, creating new social media strategies, developing branding, creating new marketing materials and supporting the development of new products or services. In addition, it will target rural and hard to reach businesses, who may not have accessed support before.
As part of the programme businesses can also apply for a £500 grant to contribute towards the implementation costs of a marketing or sales plan.
The programme follows a series of successful sector specific support programmes DBOP has run since it was established in 2016. The programmes have focused on business areas identified as having high growth potential, such as childcare, manufacturing and engineering, the creative industries, the food and drink sector and routes to contract success, which to date has helped businesses win over £2m worth of new business via public and private sector procurement frameworks.
Sarah Slaven, Business Durham’s interim Managing Director, said: “The recent local restrictions, and now second national lockdown, are a prime example of how the COVID-19 crisis will continue to affect businesses in different ways and at different times, often unexpectedly.
“The Durham Business Opportunities Programme is an excellent opportunity for micro and small companies from across County Durham to benefit from professional advice and support to help them navigate the economic impact of COVID-19 and beyond.
“The Programme is all about increasing sales, raising your business profile, and helping you get back on track. I encourage all County Durham micro and small businesses to take advantage of the scheme.”
The DBOP COVID Recovery Support for Micro and Small Businesses Programme is looking to engage with micro and small businesses who have 15 or fewer employees and have been adversely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The programme will support at least 110 micro and small businesses throughout County Durham, who will each receive at least 12 hours of support.
Cllr Carl Marshall, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for economic regeneration, said: “The coronavirus pandemic continues to make the current economic climate difficult for businesses, particularly SMEs with a small number of employees.
“We are keen to support business owners during this rapidly-changing time, ensuring the economy is sustained and resilient in this period of uncertainty. The Durham Business Opportunities Programme will help our county’s businesses develop sales and marketing plans over the next two years, upgrade their digital platforms, and receive other beneficial support to help boost their trade in our recovery from the pandemic.”
Joe Murray, Chief Executive of CDC Enterprise Agency said: “We are delighted to be working with Business Durham to deliver the DBOP COVID Recovery Support for Micro and Small Businesses Programme. Every year we work with hundreds of small businesses across County Durham and this programme will help us support many more. We encourage small businesses who think they could benefit from advice and support on sales and marketing, particularly those that haven’t previously received support to get in touch and find out how the programme can help them.”
The Durham Business Opportunities Programme is a six-year programme funded by European Regional Development Fund (EDRF) for SMEs running up until November 2022.