News release from 30/11/2021

Small Business Saturday celebrates South Cambridgeshire businesses

Small Business Saturday celebrates South Cambridgeshire businesses

Supporting hundreds of businesses through the pandemic has been a priority for South Cambridgeshire District Council which is celebrating local traders in the lead up to ‘Small Business Saturday’ on December 4.

The Council, through its Business Support and Development Team, has helped 102 local businesses access a total of £1.4million in grant funding from its COVID-19 Growth Fund which launched in the summer. Using the funding provided by Government, the scheme supports economic growth and job creation in the district by helping locally-based start-ups looking to grow quickly or established companies with ambitious growth plans. (Applications are now closed).

The local businesses to benefit are as diverse as a wildlife park and an organic vegetable box scheme.

Shepreth Wildlife Fund received £35,000 from the Growth Fund which has been spent on accessible play area equipment to enhance the experiences of young people who visit, and an educational i-Sand play machine to aid with the wildlife park’s environmental teaching. The park has been home to an exciting array of endangered wildlife and rescued animals since 1984. It had not been able to renovate its play area - a key attraction for visitors - and it had remained closed since the start of the pandemic, having a significantly negative impact on visitor numbers.

A spokesman for the park said: “We would not have been able to replace our play equipment to the extent we have without this essential support. This funding has been a lifeline for the Wildlife Park, having survived the closures enforced during the pandemic.”

The Cambridge Organic Food Company/Cambridge Food Hub, an organic vegetable box scheme and local food supply chain co-ordination service, received £50,000 from the Growth Fund enabling it to buy an additional electric van for its fleet and increasing its capacity for business. It also plans to create a new website for the Cambridge Food Hub and expand its Green Coffee Shop Scheme (a 'circular economy' business concept in which used coffee grounds are transported for recycling at the same time as products are delivered to local coffee shops).

The company said: “The support we have received from the South Cambridgeshire District Council’s Business Support and Development Growth Fund is transformative for our company. It will enable us to put our growth plans into action and in particular demonstrate the 'circular economy' concept of local food supply chain coordination that we are putting into practice, which will reduce the environmental impact of the local food system.”

As part of the ‘Small Business Saturday’ celebration in South Cambridgeshire, the Council is also highlighting the large Outdoor Christmas Market it is hosting this weekend, to promote the local economy and encourage consumers to ‘shop local’. The market will take over the whole of the High Street in Cambourne on Sunday, 5 December, showcasing over 100 local small independent traders. Running from 12 noon to 6pm, there will be stalls selling Christmas gifts, crafts, artisan foods and drink, and much more.

The Business Support and Development team offers advice on the wide range of financial help available to businesses such as general business grants and loans, support for the arts and culture sector, grants for rural businesses and support for the research and development sector, as well as help for businesses to become more energy efficient.

Since the onset of the pandemic, it has interacted with over 3,000 small businesses and visited over 1,000 businesses in person to give support with guidance on Covid safety and regulation. It has paid out more than £38 million in Government funding via business support grants, as well as providing general business support and advice to existing businesses and those looking to start-up.

To help support economic recovery and growth for those working within the hospitality sector, which has been particularly hard hit by COVID-19 lockdowns, it has set up a new website at www.visitsouthcambs.co.uk. This showcases the wealth of local food and accommodation businesses and the attractions of the area to boost both the local and visitor tourism economy. Local hospitality and leisure sector businesses can have a free listing on the website.

The Council also supports and showcases local businesses and traders on its social media channels under the banner #OnYourDoorstepSCDC. The campaign shines a spotlight on what local hospitality and retail businesses are offering seasonally. It is built around the idea of encouraging everyone to ‘shop local’, which supports local business owners, local jobs, and is positive for the planet too. Just search for #OnYourDoorstepSCDC on social media to get involved.

Peter McDonald

Cllr Peter McDonald (left), South Cambridgeshire District Council’s Lead Cabinet Member for Business Recovery and Skills, said: “Many local businesses were forced to put their growth plans on hold during the pandemic. Our Growth Fund has given the successful applicants the help they need to kickstart their plans back to recovery and as our local economy begins to improve again the whole community will also benefit. Small Business Saturday offers an excellent opportunity for us to celebrate and support those successes. The fact that we are hosting more than 100 traders at our Outdoor Christmas Market the following day is superb timing and that, combined with our new visitsouthcambs.co.uk website and #OnYourDoorstepSCDC social media campaign shows we have really stepped-up our efforts to support our local businesses.”

The Council’s Business Support and Development Team’s services are completely free to use. They encompass everything from networking sessions and free webinars on subjects such as looking after your mental wellbeing; to opportunities for doing business with the council and help in navigating services such as commercial waste recycling and planning; and advice and access to resources to help businesses reduce their carbon and increase their sustainability through recycling, energy saving and water reduction schemes. The team can also support businesses in finding, recruiting and developing the right people with the desired skills and attributes required for individual business needs, as well as offering advice on how to invest in apprenticeships, work placements and work experience to give local school and college students excellent future job opportunities.

Anyone needing advice relating to their business can contact the team at openforbusiness@scambs.gov.uk