A £557,000 contract to help the county’s small businesses in the hospitality, leisure and tourism sectors bounce back from the Covid pandemic has been awarded by Warwickshire County Council to ...

A £557,000 contract to help the county’s small businesses in the hospitality, leisure and tourism sectors bounce back from the Covid pandemic has been awarded by Warwickshire County Council to Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce.

The contract, with £320,000 of County Council funding supplemented by a further £230,000 of European Regional Development Fund money, will enable the Chamber to implement a wide range of support through to April 2024 to boost the sector and help small businesses take advantage of a potential rise in home vacations.

Project Warwickshire will provide a package of help across the sector, including 1:1 advice, networking and a range of masterclasses. The project will support businesses to seek and access grants and funding, as well as co-ordinating a series of networking events and webinars to share good practice and links.

The tourism, leisure and hospitality industry was among the hardest hit sectors when the country went into lockdown in 2020. Tourism previously translated into significant economic value for the local economy, with Warwickshire’s tourism sector contributing £858 million towards local GVA (approximating to 6.7% of the county’s total economic value) (Economic Modelling Specialist International, 2021).

Warwickshire’s tourism sector employed 22,123 people as of 2019, equating to 8% of Warwickshire’s total workforce (EMSI, 2021).

Many small businesses were supported through the crisis with the Government’s furlough scheme as well as a series of grants and business support schemes, including many funded by the County Council. Among these was the county council’s Survive, Sustain and Grow programme which engaged over 600 businesses and awarded over £400,000 of recovery grants to a selection of these businesses. It marked the shift in getting through the immediate crisis and focused instead on the bounce back, helping small businesses to review and adapt their practices to make themselves more sustainable in the future market. Project Warwickshire will involve partners including Shakespeare’s England and Northern Warwickshire Tourism to look at the future wants and needs of the sector’s previous, current and potential customers and how businesses can best be advised to make changes to their practice, such as increase digital presence and engagement.

In all, Project Warwickshire will look to engage 300 businesses across Warwickshire in the sectors, supporting 1,200 jobs, safeguarding 100 and creating a further 50. It will deliver an increase of £1.29m in GVA (Gross Value Added) for Warwickshire and maintain £2.58m GVA in Warwickshire’s economy with a return yield of £7.51 for every £1 invested up to the end of March 2024.

Cllr Kam Kaur, Warwickshire County Council’s portfolio holder for economy and place said: “There has been money available to businesses through the

Government’s Restart grants and there has been other short-term support available through the County Council and our partners.

"Project Warwickshire takes us beyond that point and will help small businesses to establish themselves in the changing market place so that they can do more than just get by but flourish, offer employment opportunities, particularly to our young people, and get back to the point where they were making such a significant contribution to our local economy. I’m delighted that we will be working with such experienced partners as the Chamber to push out this package of innovative support.”

Keely Hancox, Operations Manager for the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce is delighted to be working with Warwickshire County Council and our partners to deliver a comprehensive package of support for our Tourism, Hospitality and leisure businesses across Warwickshire. Our advisors are able to offer practical advice, technical support and that all important sounding board for Business owners within this sector. The aim to support businesses in their recovery, enabling them grow and thrive post pandemic.”

Jonathan Mountford, Northern Warwickshire Tourism, said: “Northern Warwickshire Tourism is delighted to be supporting this exciting opportunity to help businesses recover post pandemic as well as aiding the future growth of the leisure sector in the north of the county.”

Helen Peters, Chief Executive of Shakespeare’s England, said: “We are pleased to be working in partnership with the Coventry & Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce in identifying businesses across the county who will benefit from this support. In doing so we will ourselves have the opportunity to provide additional employment at the same time as ensuring that this sector that has been so affected by Covid-19 can re-emerge in a better and more sustainable position than before the pandemic struck.”

For further information, please email the Chamber on chamberbusinessprograms@cw-chamber.co.uk or call 02476 654321

For information about other support available to grow your business or general information and enquiries, contact the Coventry & Warwickshire Growth Hub on 0300 060 374

* This project is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund, forming part of the CW Business: Start, Grow and Scale Programme

Published: 4th October 2021