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Scheme to support new small businesses marks successful six months

Posted by Communications on 14 December 2021 | Comments

A pilot scheme to support small businesses in Babergh and Mid Suffolk has been hailed a success as it reaches its six-month milestone. 

Since its launch in July 2021, the Innovate Local initiative has supported 11 small businesses by providing a free pitch at either Stowmarket or Hadleigh markets for up to four weeks.

In addition to a regular spot on the market, business owners were offered support to run a safe and successful stall, mentoring, business advice and training opportunities both before and after the pilot to help them maximise the opportunity.

Feedback from the traders who have taken part in the scheme has been overwhelming positive with several investing in their own equipment to use on the market or other events. Following the initial success of the pilot, Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils are investigating ways to expand the Innovate Local scheme during 2022.

Kelly Clark runs Apothekelly Skincare and is currently benefiting from Christmas shoppers visiting Hadleigh market. She spoke about being involved in the pilot Innovate Local scheme:

“Meeting real customers face to face has been invaluable to my business, and I am so glad I decided to go ahead with the Innovate Local scheme and really feel that I am taking my business in the right direction.

“Not only has my business got off to the best start possible, it has also given me the confidence to know how good my products are and how they have been received by the public first hand.”

The Innovate Local scheme is part of a programme of activity to support high streets in the Districts post Covid-19.

Commenting on the success in Hadleigh, Cllr Michael Holt, Babergh District Council cabinet member for economic growth said:

“It has been really rewarding to see local start-up businesses benefiting from the experience of being on a busy market and engaging with customers. It can be daunting to try and launch a new business, even before the impact of a pandemic, so I am delighted that the feedback from traders involved in the Innovate Local scheme has been so positive with many feeling more confident to take their business to the next stage.”

The Innovate Local scheme is open to businesses that have been operating for less than a year and do not currently have a place on a market.

Cllr Gerard Brewster, Mid Suffolk District Council cabinet member for economic growth said:

“We have welcomed eight businesses to our market stall in Stowmarket over the past six months and supported them with expert support and advice. The feedback from the traders has demonstrated that by creating a pathway for new businesses can really help them get off the ground, engage directly with customers and develop their own skills to run a successful business.”

Louise Cornish is currently trading from the Innovate Local stall in Stowmarket and commented:

“Having the chance to be part of the Innovate Local scheme has been an amazing opportunity for me. I have always worked in retail but to get the chance to try and sell my own items is brilliant. The scheme has given me the chance to meet other traders and work alongside them, and gain experience on the market.”

The Innovate Local initiative at Hadleigh and Stowmarket has been run by Suffolk Market Events who currently manage Hadleigh market on behalf of Babergh District Council and partnership with the market manager at Stowmarket Town Council.

As part of the Innovate Local Initiative, Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils will also be opening an innovation hub in Eye and a pop-up hub in Sudbury later this year.

The Innovate Local hubs will offer small business owners and entrepreneurs access to a working space, mentoring programme as well as targeted business advice and training opportunities.

The hubs are being delivered in partnership with the Innovation Labs and businesses using either of the hubs in Eye or Sudbury will be able to use Innovation Labs collaborative working space based in Stowmarket.

The Innovate Local scheme is being funded from the Suffolk Inclusive Growth Investment Fund (SIGIF) and is part of a wider initiative to support businesses in Babergh and Mid Suffolk. Other activities include the development of the successful Virtual High Street and the roll out a digital skills programme.