A forum to support businesses through lockdown and on the road to economic recovery has been launched by South Cambridgeshire District Council and Cambridge City Council.
The Greater Cambridge Business Forum aims to explore the concerns of local firms grappling with the Coronavirus crisis and find out how best to help them.
Council leaders are working with Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce, the Federation of Small Businesses, Cambridge BID and other key business network groups to find ways to plug any support gaps and build business confidence in preparation for the long-awaited ‘bounce back’.
The initiative is supported by the Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP) and is working closely with the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority (CPCA) Mayoral Business Forum and the Local Resilience Forum’s Economic Recovery sub-group.
At the Greater Cambridge Business Forum’s first virtual meeting held on Wednesday 6 May, local business representatives shared some of their most pressing issues, ranging from financial support for small home-based firms to future plans to encourage the return of high street spending.
The initiative comes in the wake of the councils’ combined success in handing over more than £40m in Government Coronavirus support grants to 85% of around 3,000 eligible small firms
Intensive efforts are continuing to track down remaining businesses that have yet to apply for the funding and to hear from those who don’t meet the Government’s strict criteria but who may be eligible for other forms of support.
Meanwhile, the GCP, in partnership with the CPCA, has commissioned a study to assess the local economic impact of COVID-19 to help identify short to longer-term measures that the forum and other partners can take to get local businesses and people back on their feet.
South Cambridgeshire District Council Leader, Cllr Bridget Smith, told the meeting local firms were vital to both the regional and national economy.
She said: “We are all in this together and we will only get out of this together. So, we will continue to work with local and national government and the very accomplished business networks in our area to get our business communities through these very difficult times. If we all pull together, Greater Cambridge will recover well and quickly.”
Cambridge City Council Leader, Cllr Lewis Herbert, said “getting the Cambridge area economy safely out of lockdown and on to strong foundations for the new normal” was the “biggest economic and social recovery challenge we have had to face in our lifetimes, with maximising the future re-employment of local people a central objective.”
He added: “Giving confidence to our Greater Cambridge businesses big and small is critical to achieving that. Our two councils, working with the Combined Authority, will assist our highly capable and effective business networks and help businesses and other organisations get people back to work and support businesses in the challenges they face over the coming two years.”
If you need business support or would like to get advice about what’s available, visit www.scambs.gov.uk/coronavirus or www.cambridge.gov.uk/coronavirus or email GreaterCambridge.Business@Cambridgeshire.gov.uk