Local businesses benefit from Economic Recovery Grant

The grant was designed to support business survival, re-start, job creation and safeguarding through a package of incentives.

The Economic Recovery Grant was available to help Doncaster businesses affected by their recovery and growth following the covid pandemic and the impacts of Brexit. The grant was designed to support business survival, re-start, job creation and safeguarding through a package of incentives.

The Harpham Company (THC) – Youth Theatre School

Olivia Harpham and William Shelton launched their first drama school in 2020, to deliver weekly classes in singing, dancing and acting for children. “Our mission is to make theatre training and performing arts accessible to all children and provide a platform for women directors to run their own theatre school.” Olivia told us.

Throughout the pandemic, they ensured children could still perform in local theatres without an audience, however this had a severe impact on profits. THC became heavily reliant on digital and online systems for operating the business. As small business owners, Olivia and William created their website from scratch, but as they made the move towards becoming paperless and with the increase of schools wanting to participate, they required more complex automatic systems for bookings.  

Working with the Business Doncaster team, they were successful in receiving grant funding from the Economic Recovery Grant scheme which enabled them to hire a professional website designer/developer to restructure their website to enable their business to grow. “Business Doncaster have been extremely supportive and helpful to our business. They assisted with grant applications and sourcing funding that has been instrumental to our business growth.” Olivia concluded.

At the start of 2021, the drama school moved into a beautiful, grade two listed studio in the heart of Sprotbrough village; it is now one of the largest theatre education facilities in the area and their ambitious growth plans to establish new theatre school do not stop here.

Jock Sergison’s Garage Ltd.

Established in 1974, Jock Sergison’s Garage Ltd is an independent garage based on the Hyde Park Industrial Estate. After a lengthy period of stewardship by the Sergison family, the garage is now owned by Jamie Smyth, managed by his father Wayne Smyth.

Building on the garage’s reputation for quality and reliability, some exciting and innovative changes are now taking place. The growing move to hybrid and electrical vehicles brings with it a fresh set of challenges. “We are looking to increase turnover by up to 30%. We have plans for a team of five fully qualified mechanical technicians who will service local businesses to keep fleet vehicles on the road, including specialist staff for hybrid and electric cars. We are doubling our bay capacity by adding new areas for tyre fitting, state of the art wheel alignment and mechanical fitting.” Jamie commented.

Improvements to the website were necessary to help generate new business, allow customers to obtain faster downloads and improve data capture. Jamie continued: “This work has now been completed thanks to support from Business Doncaster and the receipt of the Economic Recovery Grant. Our website, social media and marketing will enable us to maintain great customer records, prompt specific car requirements for our customers and allow our online presence to be a core part of generating new business”.

The Build Chain

The Build Chain established in 2021 by Neil Sheldon and Matthew McClune is an innovative online platform built to support the construction industry. It brings together major national suppliers of building materials and plant hire companies and connects them with building contractors looking to buy their products and services.

It’s a complex proposition to manage with long procurement chains, high levels of inflation, lack of standardisation and accountability, stringent compliance requirements and a wide geographical spread which all add to costs.

A more efficient and effective way to connect the buyers and sellers was needed and this new digital platform was the brainchild of Neil and Matthew. The Build Chain portal has been supported by £620k funding, including £500k from Finance Yorkshire’s seed fund, a £5k Economic Recovery Grant as well as a Decarbonisation Grant.

Business Doncaster has provided business guidance, support and networking opportunities throughout the initial stages of developing the business. 

Neil and Matthew have a vision to drive significant growth from the portal and their overriding aim is to achieve £1 billion of value by 2027.

It To Go

In 2005, Steve Warrender launched IT to Go with just £200. Fast forward to 2023 and Steve is continuing to expand and develop his business. It to Go now offer services including EPOS tills, websites, gaming PCs, laptops and repairs in addition to IT support for the private, public and business sectors.

“After growing my business in small steps, we are now one of the largest independent shops in Doncaster, providing IT services across Yorkshire. I am proud of my business which I have built from scratch. Now I want to help mentor young people into self-employment, proving that qualifications don’t mean everything.” Steve explained.

Building the business has meant moving into larger premises in Dunscroft, as well as being flexible about the services offered. The cost-of-living crisis has resulted in more customers choosing to have old equipment repaired rather than buying new. This keeps costs down and is better for the environment as it reduces landfill.

IT To Go’s growth journey has been supported by Business Doncaster. Support has been in the form of funding and business support, apprenticeships and mentoring. The Economic Recovery Grant contributed to the cost of improving the company’s software and technology systems, saving time and money by automating some services and processes, allowing them to focus on taking the business forward.

Steve is a firm believer in networking as a great way of promoting awareness of the business; this includes regularly taking an exhibition stand at the Doncaster Business Showcase. “It is a fantastic event for new and existing businesses to meet decision-makers, clients and new contacts. I have attended the Showcase every year since the start and look forward to many more years of partnership with Business Doncaster.” Steve concluded.

The Economic Recovery Grant scheme is now closed, however there are alternative funding and grant opportunities still available.

For further information contact the Business Doncaster team on 01302 735555 or email: info@businessdoncaster.com

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