East Herts Council grants boost new business for Bishop's Stortford
A council grant scheme has helped 13 businesses in Bishop’s Stortford to prosper despite the Covid-19 pandemic.
Overall, East Herts Council has distributed £85,000 to 18 businesses across the district, with each new outlet receiving up to £5,000.
In the run-up to Christmas, the authority’s chairman, Cllr Ken Crofton, congratulated the latest to launch – Fordes in North Street.
Owner and Dunmow businessman James Ford hosted a champagne soiree to officially open his flagship home furnishings store in the former Lathams premises.
The council’s boost for business has won praise from the town’s BID (Business Improvement District).
Manager Gina Thomas said: “We're delighted to see another business open their doors in Bishop's Stortford. Fordes is a great addition to North Street and is a beautiful store which I'm sure will be popular.
"The support from East Herts in the form of the new business grant I know has really helped a number of new businesses open up and we welcome such support."
Fashion Flooring & Interiors also benefitted from the funding, which comes from the Government's Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy.
The High Street retailer was able to open a second branch in Potter Street after refurbishing the former Cancer Research shop, which had been empty since it was devastated by fire in 2018.
And Terracotta Senses used the cash to leave the Havers estate and open in the former Carol's of Bishop's Stortford lingerie shop in South Street.
Owner Angela Martins said: "The council grant has helped us a lot. It supported us to move to a bigger, more prominent location closer to town. The money funded our deposit so that we could spend on our signage, flooring and upgrade our point-of-sale system – all to give our customers a better shopping experience.
“We opened on November 15 and trade has been fantastic. All our products are eco-friendly and carefully sourced from suppliers around the world. We have plans to grow in the future, including a healing room upstairs, to complement the sense of wellbeing our customers get from visiting us.”
Other retailers to benefit include Essentials at Millars Maltings off Southmill Road, where the “corner shop” sells craft beers, wines and gin, and Blush Flower Hut in the same complex.
Services have used East Herts Council’s Launchpad coworking office space in the Causeway as a springboard for their endeavours. They include Eveology, a corporate events company.
Founder Paul Evans said: “My industry has had a tough ride during Covid-19, but when the business started to pick up again this grant gave me a valuable opportunity to be a part of a dynamic business environment.
"I think all businesses are starting to ask questions about commuting and want to be more local – for their benefit but also to support and help the communities where they live.”
Techfident and Sones Accountancy are also based at Launchpad, while Gene East Ltd is now headquartered in the Charringtons building.
Wickham Hall’s facilities are being used by three new businesses thanks to the grant scheme. They include The Residence coworking space launched by Karen Tait. It has nine offices – all fully let – and two meeting rooms for hire, plus flexible desk space. Users include Tammy Salmon’s Salmon Financial Planning.
She said: “Thanks to the grant from East Herts Council, I could commit to an office space longer term, helping me through the first year trading.
"When you start a business it can be lonely, so finding somewhere to be part of a vibrant business community was exactly what I needed to kick-start my new venture, which, thankfully, has been really successful.
"I’ve been able to help and advise many new clients and I'm looking ahead to continuing those relationships and building new ones in 2022.”
First Option Healthcare has also been set up at Wickham Hall while Pardon Chambers Architects has a new base in North Street.
Cllr Jan Goodeve, East Herts Council's executive member for planning and growth, has been meeting many of the new arrivals.
She said: “Concerned for the impact of coronavirus on our high streets and other business areas, we set up the grant scheme to help local traders take on new premises and bring an exciting mix of shops, eateries and services to East Herts.
“It was fantastic to meet the dedicated people behind these businesses and hear first-hand the difference it’s made to their lives, their teams and their customers. I know the wonderful East Herts community will continue to support them.
“Bishop’s Stortford is a great place to do business and anyone wanting to join our vibrant business community should get in touch to find out more.”
The grants are available until March 31, 2022. For more information and to apply see www.eastherts.gov.uk/premises-grant.