It’s no secret that the past year has been tough on local businesses, with multiple lockdowns and changing restrictions on social contact meaning periods of closure and uncertainty.
But the Forest of Dean District Council is committed to supporting its local independents – and is encouraging visitors to return safely to its high streets to support its town centre businesses.
Giving shoppers the confidence to return to its towns and villages, while remembering the basics of hands, face, space and fresh air, the council is offering incentives like free 30-minute parking bays to welcome people back.
All while helping businesses to stay safe with its handy pack of downloadable resources, which includes safety message posters, social distancing floor stickers and more.
And it’s doing its bit to support new local start-up businesses registered after April 2020, too.
Giving new local businesses and social enterprises a boost, the Forest of Dean District Council business start-up grant offers up to £1,000 in funding which can be used for various start-up activities – from initial research and development through to purchasing equipment, installing new technology or securing premises.
A whole host of local start-ups have benefited from the scheme to date, including new e-commerce business, Hive Drinks Company, which sells and delivers bespoke IPA and infused rum to customers in the Forest; and Woodside Distillery, which used the funding to cover start-up costs for its gin distillery.
Dean Pool Cabins, meanwhile, used the funding to purchase new holiday let accommodation; while Hope Farm Retreats was able to update facilities on its site, including the installation of an eco-friendly toilet.
The funding also enabled St Briavels’ village shop, The Pantry, to invest in a laptop and enhancements to its website to allow online ordering. While Café On The Hill in Tutshill was able to create better access and facilities in its café.
Doing its bit for the environment, too, the funding helped Redbrook Green Energy to undertake a feasibility study into the construction of a hydro-electric cross flow turbine, using the existing waterfall at Brewery Yard in Redbrook.
Any locally-based business or social enterprise can apply for the Forest of Dean District Council business start-up grant, either individually or in partnership.
The current round of applications closes on Friday 25 June 2021; with the next closing dates set for Friday 20 August and Friday 22 October 2021.
For some inspiration, see 7 interesting towns and villages to explore in the Forest of Dean for inspiration when planning your trip.