Grants for start-up or micro-businesses in Wales are now available under the Town Centre Entrepreneurship Fund.
The grants are available for businesses that have been trading for less than two years and are either in or looking to relocate to Bangor, Colwyn Bay, Rhyl or Wrexham, the grants aim to help with the costs associated with opening in a town centre location.
The awards will be subject to a number of criteria: applicants must provide a viable twelve-month business plan as well as a cash flow forecast for their designated location and be able to show match funding of at least 100% in the form of savings, loans or other investment.
Qualifying businesses must be registered and operate wholly within Wales and commit to a tenancy of at least twelve months in one of the four pilot towns. Further conditions must also be met but those who have previously received support from either the Welsh Government or their local authority will not be excluded from applying.
Applicants must register with the Business Wales service. Upon submission of an Expression of Interest, they will be assigned an advisor to support them through the process. Assistance is available for anyone needing help in completing the forms.
Opening from June 21, the £3m fund will comprise a mix of both grant funding and loans of between £1,000 and £50,000 backed by the Development Bank of Wales. The scheme will operate for twelve months, closing on 20 June 2022 or when all the funds are exhausted, whichever occurs first.
In a statement, Welsh Government Minister for the Economy Vaughan Gething MS said: ‘Our town centres have been severely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic and this pilot project aims to encourage and support new businesses in four of North Wales’ town centres. The fund will give entrepreneurs the incentive and a helping hand to set up business there. The aim is to not only increase businesses in those town centres but also to support new business.’
Towns along the A55 corridor have particularly suffered due to a reduction in tourism levels over the last fifteen months. Speaking to NewStartMag, Colwyn Bay town councillor Chris Hughes welcomed the announcement, saying: ‘This really is exciting news. Colwyn Bay is unique in so many ways and I’m delighted that the Welsh Government have chosen our town as a pilot for this funding.
‘There has been a lot of investment in infrastructure over recent years with our new waterfront, beach, Artisan Market and the events arena at Parc Eirias drawing increased visitor numbers to the town, but like many places, Colwyn Bay has suffered during the recent crisis. This new funding will provide an exciting opportunity for new businesses to take advantage of everything Colwyn Bay has to offer and create much needed long term sustainable jobs in our town.’
Further along the coast, Mayor of Rhyl, Councillor Mrs Diane King was similarly appreciative of the news, she told NewStartMag: ‘It is wonderful that Rhyl town centre has been selected alongside one of four other town centres in North Wales to offer this opportunity to budding entrepreneurs who may have been considering taking the plunge setting up and establishing a business in the town.
‘Thanks to huge investment from the Welsh Government offering grant funding and partially through loans to help get businesses up and running. I would encourage all those bold entrepreneurs to invest their expertise in our town which has and is currently undergoing significant regeneration projects and helping contribute towards continuing to secure the future of all businesses currently trading and those looking to invest in our town centre – the heartbeat of our town.’
Photo by K. Mitch Hodge