(Link to Council Priorities: Economic Development)
The Leader introduced the report and reminded Members that the Elmbridge Civic Improvement Fund had been established in 2009 to provide investment to make the Borough’s High Streets and Town Centres more attractive shopping destinations. The Fund had been created with an initial £1 million from the Local Authority Business Growth Incentive Scheme (LABGI).
The Cabinet noted that the Scheme was available to independent businesses within Elmbridge and provided grants of up to 90% of total eligible costs for certain types of projects. To date, 261 grants had been approved for funding, which had resulted in investment of £736,531.49 in the local economy.
The Leader advised that the current available balance in the Elmbridge Civic Improvement Fund budget was £23,455.42 and in order for the Fund to continue to operate, it was proposed that £200,000 be transferred from the Strategic Reserve (Local Authority Business Growth Incentive) with the Fund being extended for a further two years until 31 March 2020. This increase in the available balance would help to continue to make the Borough’s Town Centres more vibrant and improve the appearance of shopping areas.
With regard to the Elmbridge Start Up Fund, the Leader advised that in 2015, the Fund had been created and £50,000 had been allocated from the Elmbridge Civic Improvement Fund to help ensure business start-ups in the Borough survived the crucial first year of trading.
The Elmbridge Start Up Fund was open to businesses which had yet to start operating or had been trading for under six months. The Fund provided up to £1,000 funding towards start-up costs, with projects ranging from website development to purchasing equipment. To date, 37 grants had been awarded funding, which totalled £32,172.44 in allocations.
In order to increase the balance available for the Elmbridge Start Up Fund, it was proposed that £20,000 of the monies allocated to the Elmbridge Civic Improvement Fund be allocated for this scheme.
The Cabinet fully supported the request to increase the funding for both Funds which they considered was an effective way of engaging with local businesses in the Borough. Members considered that any assistance that the Council could provide to local retailers was vital, particularly given the number of empty shops within the Borough’s High Streets.
(a) £200,000 be transferred from the Strategic Reserve (Local Authority Business Growth Incentive) to increase the available balance for the Elmbridge Civic Improvement Fund;
(b) in accordance with (a) above, £20,000 be allocated from this amount to increase the balance available for the Elmbridge Start Up Fund; and
(c) the Elmbridge Civic Improvement Fund be extended for another two years until 31 March 2020.