A year after the coronavirus pandemic swept through Derbyshire, the economic impact is still being felt right across the county, with many businesses still counting the cost and people who lost their jobs still looking for work.
But while many sectors continue to struggle, there has been a huge increase in people setting up their own business in order to keep their heads above water or simply fulfil a long-held ambition.
And they are not alone. Figures show that across the UK more than 400,000 new businesses, including more than 2,000 in Derbyshire, were launched last year, with entrepreneurs who may have never dreamed of being their own bosses helping to lead the UK’s post-COVID recovery.
Now, a partnership of local authorities across Derbyshire, including North East Derbyshire District Council, have joined forces to launch Vision Derbyshire in order to encourage more people living locally to set up their own companies too.
Called the ‘Vision Derbyshire Business Start-Up and Business Support Grant Scheme’, the scheme is open to those who are about to take the plunge or have just started their business journey.
Vision Derbyshire has already assembled a team of local expert business advisors who will be there to offer free advice and support, while funding of up to £10,000 per applicant is also available.
Networking opportunities and help in securing a wide range of services necessary to help entrepreneurs turn their venture into a success will also be a part of the package.
Nothing on this scale has ever been launched in Derbyshire before and, unlike other business support schemes, Vision Derbyshire is targeting entrepreneurs and those aged between 17 and 30, or who are aged over 50 and who lost their jobs or livelihoods during COVID.
Councillor Tricia Gilby, Economic lead for Vision Derbyshire and Leader of Chesterfield Borough Council, which is one of the councils taking part alongside Derbyshire County Council said: “Councils across Derbyshire have been committed to doing all we can for our businesses through what has been an incredibly difficult time but, like places up and down the country, our local economy has been hit hard by the impact of the pandemic.
“However, out of hardship often come silver linings and it has also seen many people who were among the most badly affected launch their own businesses or make plans to go it alone.
“They are precisely the people that this Vision Derbyshire scheme is designed to help, so that together we can nurture the spirit of enterprise and entrepreneurship that has always burned brightly in Derbyshire in order to help the county’s economy to re-emerge stronger.
“We are delighted to be involved in this county-wide initiative and would encourage anybody who has considered starting their own business or who has taken the plunge in the past year to find out more about how Vision Derbyshire can help them to turn their plans into a successful and sustainable business.”
A funding pot of £550,000, which has been raised through Derbyshire’s involvement in the Government’s Retained Business Rates Pilot scheme, has been set aside to fund companies, with a range of grants available over the next two years.