Home > Business > Economic Development > Business News and Events

Business News and Events

Economic recovery plan launched to support businesses in the districts

Following two years of unprecedented challenges, Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils have launched their economic recovery plan. This plan outlines the different initiatives, schemes and packages to help businesses - large and small - in the districts.

The aim of the recovery plan is to provide a direction for the Councils to support businesses and communities, post COVID-19, to:

  • stimulate innovation
  • attract inward investment
  • encourage strong economic growth

The recovery plan is segmented into three priority themes:

  1. innovation and creative
  2. connected and sustainable
  3. successful and skilled

with a focus on helping businesses recover and grow after the economic impact of the business.

Commenting on the plan, Cllr Michael Holt (Cabinet member for Economic Growth, Babergh District Council) said:

After the challenges of the last two years, it is important that we have a strong plan in place so we can offer the right support to businesses and our communities. We want to help our businesses remain resilient and continue to grow, creating a strong local economy that will attract more people to live and work in our communities.

Since the first lockdown in March 2020, the Councils have administered over £81m in government grants to help businesses through the financial impact of COVID-19. In addition, initiatives such as:

  • the Virtual High Street
  • the Innovation Awards
  • Innovate Local and
  • the Local Energy Showcase

have provided businesses with new opportunities to grow and develop.

Cllr Gerard Brewster (Cabinet member for Economic Development, Mid Suffolk District Council) commented:

Our ambition is to support strong growth across the district, to encourage innovation and creativity, to upskill our communities and help stimulate a wide range of job opportunities. To achieve this, we need to continue building strong working relationships with a range of partners, encouraging investment, connecting our communities and promoting our towns and villages as places that people want to call home.

Read our economic recovery plan

Read our recovery action plan

Your Virtual High Street, supporting our town centres

In March 2020, the first Virtual High Street was launched in Sudbury, after Sudbury Town Council saw the opportunity to help businesses through the first, unprecedented national lockdown. 

In October 2020, following investment from us, the online platform was relaunched with additional functionality. Over 100 businesses joined within the first month.

Further investment has since come from the Suffolk Inclusive Growth Investment Fund. The Virtual High Street has now launched in:

  • Stowmarket
  • Hadleigh
  • Needham Market
  • Eye

and encourages communities to shop local, and support their businesses.

Businesses can join the platform for free. It offers new opportunities - built-in eCommerce, promotional offers and experiences - that will encourage footfall back into town centres. This footfall will positively benefit shops, venues and hospitality.

To join - or to find out more - please visit the Virtual High Street

Local energy showcase event

The Local Energy Showcase was hosted by the Councils on Thursday 21 October and Friday 22 October 2021. The showcase took place at Wherstead Park, Ipswich. The Councils were supported by our partners:

  • East of England Co-op, Suffolk - Creating the Greenest County
  • Central Suffolk Chamber of Commerce

Taking sustainable action

The Councils are on the path to carbon neutrality. Our planet is in the midst of a climate emergency and we recognise the importance of reducing our carbon footprint. Therefore, we commit to supporting the Suffolk-wide aim of becoming carbon neutral by 2030.

As part of this mission, we hosted a local energy showcase event, which championed the culture of sustainability across Suffolk. Local businesses, communities and national organisations had the chance to showcase the brilliant work they have done so far to reduce their environmental impact and become carbon neutral.

What was it about?

The showcase marked the Councils' recognition of a climate emergency, as well as their commitment to become carbon neutral by 2030. The two day event aimed to inform and update visitors of the latest local developments in green energy. The event featured keynote speeches from specialists in the field, workshops, and a Q&A session with an expert panel.

Delegates had the opportunity to network with, and learn from, leaders in the fields of carbon reduction, heat networks, and solar energy. It was a great opportunity to find out what local energy means to them.

The showcase served as a fantastic opportunity for the Councils to show our commitment to climate change. The event tied in nicely with the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), which was held in Glasgow in November 2021.

Overall, our showcase offered:

  • A marketplace for community-based organisations, businesses and charities
  • Expert keynote speakers
  • Workshops hosted by leaders in local energy
  • Networking opportunities
  • Thought-provoking panel discussion



Councils in Suffolk, alongside the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, have formed the Suffolk Gateway Partnership, in order to deliver the national Kickstart Scheme. The scheme is designed to boost opportunities for young people in the workplace.

Key facts about Kickstart:

  • The scheme was developed by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to provide six month employment placements for 16-24 year olds on Universal Credit
  • It assists the young people who take part in gaining the skills and experience they will need in future
  • Funding is provided to cover the wages of each placement, for 25 hours per week
  • Extra funding is provided to help support personal development

In Suffolk, we have seen a fantastic response from employers and our young people. Since the scheme was launched, over 700 placements have been made available. About 75% of the employers who have taken part so far, have offered their Kickstarter a permanent role following the end of their placement.

Following advice from the DWP, the Partnership are no longer accepting applications from businesses for the scheme. Instead, our focus is on making sure that employers who are already registered are matched with suitable Kickstarters.

If you still want to register, or would like some more information, please email emma@suffolkchamber.co.uk. Emma will be happy to answer any queries and can signpost you to the DWP, for direct registration.


There are a range of further employment and training schemes available in Suffolk, to support both your existing workforce and new recruits. These include apprenticeships, training programmes and staff development (for example, workplace support for mental health). For more information, please email skills@suffolk.gov.uk.

Winners of the 2020 Innovation Awards announced

The winners of the first ever Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils Innovation Awards were announced at a virtual event on Tuesday 3 November.

The event was a great success attended by the nominees, judges, sponsors and other local businesses. In addition to the awards ceremony, guests joined one of three workshops and a very successful speed networking session. 

Find out more about the Innovation Awards winners

Other News

Register for Sizewell C Supply Chain Opportunities

EDF Energy has partnered with Suffolk and Norfolk Chambers of Commerce to identify and support local businesses who want to become part of the supply chain. This is part of the proposal to build Sizewell C Nuclear Power Station. 

Businesses can register their interest for Sizewell C online. This forms the central resource for all Suffolk and Norfolk businesses who wish to make the most of this development.

Suffolk Chamber of Commerce in Central Suffolk

Babergh & Mid Suffolk are delighted to invest in the development of a new Suffolk Chamber of Commerce in Central Suffolk. It gives our districts' businesses access to a wealth of support, networking and lobbying opportunities.

The Central Suffolk chamber was launched in Autumn 2019 and is chaired by Dr Peter Funnell.

Find out more about the Suffolk Chamber in Central Suffolk