The Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), the region's leading business support organisation has announced the wide range of support tools that they have put in place to help businesses get through the current economic challenges that they are facing. With the recent withdrawal from the European Union and the prolonged Covid-19 pandemic having ongoing impacts on businesses in the Solent, they have developed a range of specific programmes, funding streams, on-line events and toolkits, in addition to their usual business support services.
In March 2020 when the first Covid-19 lockdown was announced, the LEP responded swiftly, ensuring that their Growth Hub team were on hand to support the sharp increase in numbers of enquiries from worried businesses. More recently they have set up a programme of one-to-one assistance, and other systems for businesses needing support through the Brexit transition.
Raz Wright from Trenza Braid Bar who received funding through the LEP's Pay-it-Forward Crowdfunding scheme said: “I have been extremely impressed and humbled by the support and kindness from a range of staff at Solent LEP. Taking the time to speak with me at length about my situation and giving me advice and guidance when needed was a huge lifeline at a very dark time. Thank you, the support has been invaluable and helped to keep my business afloat in this terrible economic time.”
Support measures for regional businesses are clearly set out on the Solent LEP website where a 'Coronavirus Support Hub' and a 'Brexit Transition and Overseas Trade Hub' can be found, alongside other more general business enquiries. The Hubs provide self-assessment tools designed for businesses to assess how prepared they are to face some of the current economic challenges, and provide tailored information on what actions they need to take, and how to access the required support.
Brian Johnson, chair of the Solent LEP said: "This economic period like no other is a hugely testing time for businesses in the region. It has been essential that the Solent LEP finds ever more innovative and accessible methods to support our small and medium-sized businesses. Over the past 12 months we have developed a match-funded crowdfunding programme, financial assistance for rural businesses based in the New Forest and the Isle of Wight, we have overseen government and EU grants, and established peer networking groups right across the region, plus many other programmes. I really encourage businesses, however big or small to get in contact and to consider the range of tools and support that we have on offer."
The LEP's latest initiative has been to establish a Brexit advice service for businesses to get critical one-to-one advice with a Brexit Transition Business Adviser. Through this service businesses receive up to five hours of support tailored to their specific business needs.
To contact the Solent LEP: