This month with are celebrating collaboration in our P=Partnership campaign. Simon Middleton – Business Relationship Manager for the York & North Yorkshire Growth Hub shares his experience of working in partnership with local authorities to help support businesses through COVID.
Y&NY LEP enjoys a fantastic partnership with Scarborough Council to deliver Business Support on the coast. Working together, with shared objectives, we can adapt and work quickly to get much needed grant funding out to businesses. I work for the Growth Hub, which is the business support function for the LEP. My role is part funded by Scarborough Borough Council, so my focus is to support businesses on the coast.
SBC asked me in March if they thought I could deliver £250K of business adaptations grant funding by the end of June. The first thing this demonstrated to me was confidence and trust given they have only known me since November last year. I was confident we could meet those timescales so the partnering work involved could be summarised as follows:
- I worked with SBC Finance and Regeneration teams to design and implement and application process and payment process.
- We worked with with SBC IT Support to advertise this on their website.
- We used our relationships with existing contacts across the business landscape in Scarborough District to market the forthcoming scheme so that it got off to a quick start.
- It takes a lot of work to get applications through for grant funding, so we partnered with with SBC to review and approve / decline / resubmit applications.
- To keep everyone on track and ensure we were all on the same page, we held regular review updates several times per week with SBC Finance during the lifetime of the project.
The outcome being that we were able to deliver the full £250k grant pot ahead of schedule. Over 60 businesses have been supported with financial help between £2K-£5K that they have used to purchase machinery / equipment to help them adapt to the impact of Covid.
Whilst getting the grants to businesses is a big part of that process, it’s actually about so much more than that. Getting a business a grant, opens up the door for a broader conversation. For example, I spoke to a business yesterday and we ended up with 13 different opportunities to help them with only a handful of those related to grant funding. As a Business Relationship Manager, I use my strong network of contacts and knowledge of the all the support options available to create bespoke support for every business I work with.
The Growth Hub led on this project and it completed on time with full spend. This has since lead to another project being sent my way by the Council CEO and I could not be more positive about our relationship with several different teams within SBC, especially considering I’ve never met most of them in real life!!
I enjoy working in partnership because it vastly increases the chances of positive outcomes for the businesses I work with. That’s really important because the range of skills and resources in a partnership are far broader than working alone.