Jack Glonek, Assistant Director of Investment, Enterprise and Employment, discusses Birmingham City Council’s work to support local people and businesses through the recession:
While the worst of the recession may be behind us, there is no doubt that in reality the effects of the recession will continue to be felt very keenly by businesses and residents alike for some time. There is now a big role for the Council to play in both helping reduce the impact of the recession as well as contribute towards building the road to the economic recovery of the local economy
It seems unlikely that even when the recovery begins it will happen quickly, and the world we emerge into is likely to be very different to that of just 12-18 months ago.
Since the effects of the recession began to be felt, the Council has put a great deal of effort into publicising existing and new support services for those most effected.
From business start-up and job seekers support, to advice on benefits, debt management, accessing Government loans and rate relief for businesses, the range of support we have been able to offer has been wide.
Just this month we proved our commitment was more than hollow promises, by pulling together more than 500 available jobs which visitors to the free two-day FUTURES jobs event at Villa Park were able to apply for.
Such was the demand at this event, with more than 3,500 people coming through the doors, that we are already planning for another event in the autumn/winter.
Of course responding to the recession is not just about single events or services, and we realise that the only way to breed long term growth and prosperity is by taking positive city-wide action here and now.
With this in mind the Council has just announced a £28m regeneration recovery package known as the Working Neighbourhood Fund (WNF).
Probably the most headline grabbing aspect of this package is the £10m business loans fund. This will see the city council stepping in to directly provide much needed financial support to local businesses, who find themselves struggling to raise much needed capital from traditional lenders, despite providing viable business propositions.
Offered through a network of organisations specialising in judging business loan applications, the money is intended to protect existing jobs and encourage job creation, especially within small to medium sized enterprises.
Other highlights of the WNF package include:
- a comprehensive package to support development, survival and growth of an estimated 440 existing and 50 new businesses
- a project which will see 870 new graduates supported within employment or new business start-ups
- establishing new suburban retail areas to attract and support independent traders.
- full or part funding for up to 500 higher and further education places
- enabling £2.0 million in business rate relief to small and medium sized businesses
- establishment of a dedicated unit within Birmingham Science Park to support start-up high tech businesses
Of course, work continues on other initiatives to tackle the recession, so watch this space for moreâ€¦â€¦â€¦.