A new grant scheme has been launched to help north-east firms recover from Covid-19.
Aberdeenshire Council has launched the Business Resilience and Sustainability Scheme (BRASS), which provides businesses with discretionary grant funding to help them diversify.
It is designed to support firms which have climate change and net zero ambitions in building digital resilience and secure accreditations to help them become more competitive.
The new fund has been introduced to provide more financial support to firms following the closure of the nationwide Coronavirus Business Support Grants.
Belinda Miller, the council’s head of economic development and protective services, said: “Our businesses have been challenged like never before as a result of Covid-19 with a significant knock to the economy, together with increasing environmental expectations from the public and a demand for digital business solutions.
“We have seen a huge amount of resilience and creative solutions around these challenges and hope this fund encourages and supports new initiatives as we adapt to the new normal.”
Projects implemented prior to applications being made will not be eligible for funding.
Successful applicants will be expected to match the funding they receive by a minimum of 50%.
Those hoping to apply are encouraged to contact their local Aberdeenshire Council business development executive to discuss their applications.
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The council also previously launched the Developing our Northern Towns programme as its regeneration strategy for Banff, MacDuff, Fraserburgh and Peterhead.
And the Town Centres Phoenix Fund was created earlier this year to kick-start the region’s economic recovery, with grants being made available to town centres across the region.
Infrastructure services committee chairman Peter Argyle said: “Aberdeenshire Council is absolutely committed to creating the conditions for a thriving local economy.
“Be it through infrastructure and connectivity investment, the Developing our Northern Towns programme or our recently established Town Centres Phoenix Fund, we aim to come up with innovative initiatives to support our businesses.
“The BRASS Scheme is no exception to this and we are eager to see what this fund can deliver.”
Vice-chairman John Cox added: “We know that we continue to face challenging times and we are here to support our local business community.
“Our town centres businesses have been hit hard by the emergency lockdown measures, but we believe there are also new opportunities to be embraced and this could be a good time for businesses in our town centres to work more collaboratively and creatively to respond to the challenges we are all facing.”
Leslie Forsyth, manager of Rediscover Peterhead, the town’s business improvement district, said: “Rediscover Peterhead welcomes this new support from Aberdeenshire Council.
“Several Peterhead businesses have already changed and diversified their business models because of the pandemic.
“Innovation is going to be an even more important part of business resilience in the ‘new normal’.
“The BRASS Fund is an opportunity for local businesses to get the resources they need to innovate and diversify.
“We are ready to support businesses through the application process.”
To find out more about the fund and how to apply, visit aberdeenshire.gov.uk/business/business-covid-19/business-resilience-and-sustainability-scheme/