Council to spur on business owners with cash and advice

BUSINESS owners can look forward to loans and strategy assistance thanks to Chichester District Council’s (CDC) new plans to boost the economy.

The council’s cabinet met on Tuesday and approved, in principal, its new Corporate Plan for 2015 to 2018 which included projects to help boost tourism and give financial support to entrepreneurs.

Councillors agreed they must use their ability to undertake research on the area, to ‘re-inspire’ private sector companies to invest in the industry.

“Tourism for our district is one of the key economic drivers and anything we can do to help, we should be doing,” said Cllr Carol Purnell.

Cllr Tony Dignum said he thought tourism was an area for the private sector to take charge of, as opposed to the local authority.

Stephen Oates, CDC’s economic development manager, informed that the council could help by undertaking research and providing companies with data to inform them how they can effectively boost the industry and then they can be left to drive any changes.

He said: “We have to inspire the tourism industry and provide the point that tourists are coming here and will want to come here.

“It’s clear the drive has dropped off and it’s important to re-kindle it.”

The research was estimated to cost about £20,000. Whether the council or its partners fund this will be decided once there is a more detailed plan.

The Corporate Plan also included a project to undertake a comprehensive programme of research in the city and market towns to provide data which could help businesses, such as shopping habits and footfall.

The research would aim to assist businesses in creating strategies for growth.

In turn, the hope would be to increase employment, footfall and visitor spend.

The cost of such research was estimated at £30,000 - the source will be decided at a later date.

Another Corporate Plan project was to create a small business loan scheme to assist entrepreneurs who have difficulty accessing finance.

Cllr Myles Cullen said: “This is something the council hasn’t engaged in before. It’s a more overt way of helping businesses and builds on the success our business support officers have had over the years.”

Loans will be considered for up to 50 per cent of a project cost, up to a maximum of £25,000, and repayable within three years.

The cost the scheme should cost £150,000. Again, the source is yet to be decided.