Business Adaptation Grants help Essex businesses diversify online

West Essex businesses have been able to diversify online and keep their businesses alive during the pandemic thanks to Essex County Council’s (ECC) Business Adaptation Grants and swift support with the application process from Uttlesford District Council.

Detheo Photography, Ashton House Media and The Saffron Walden Gallery all received grants through Uttlesford District Council to purchase equipment during the recent national lockdown, allowing them to offer online services to wider worldwide audiences.

Bill Tickner, owner of the Saffron Walden Gallery, said that the grant process was “very straight-forward”. He made the application through Uttlesford District Council and received funds within a matter of days to buy a laptop and fund an online advertising campaign.

He said: “This positive support when we needed it most and without delay, is something I am really grateful for. Being unable to open the gallery, it was imperative that I tried to grow the business online during lockdown to facilitate sales while the gallery was closed.”

He added: “As a business that has relied almost exclusively on footfall sales in the past, the transition to diversify the business has proved a challenge but has also been rewarding. Grant support has been crucial to the survival of our business and I’m sure this is the case for all small to medium-sized businesses.”

Richard Haywood, owner of Ashton House Media in Stansted, said he was surprised how easy the application process was. It was ‘highly efficient’ in his experience, with funding received within two weeks. He said: “As a training provider, I used the grant to buy new audio equipment to produce podcasts, host webinars and paid for a Zoom business account subscription to deliver online training courses.

“I’m now working with clients overseas, so it has enhanced and expanded my business offering. I encourage other businesses to apply as any pocket of extra help is a godsend in these challenging times and can really help your business to move forward,” he added.
Award-winning specialist pet photographer, Maria Michael of Detheo Photography in Bishops Stortford, has dedicated the last 10 years to learning about the psychology and behaviour of dogs and horses. She used the grant to buy new camera equipment to expand into virtual online training. “The ECC Business Adaptation Grant funding means I can now offer my knowledge as virtual learning to a bigger global audience, she said. “The webinars I hold are in collaboration with photographic associations and camera manufacturers and are watched by audiences all over the world. They highlight the importance of animal welfare during photography.”

ECC has worked closely with local councils across Essex to streamline the application and approval process. Businesses can apply through their local council for an ECC Business Adaptation Grant of up to £1,500 until July 2021. It can help with the costs of carrying out adjustments, improving business offerings, complying with enhanced trading rules or buying extra equipment for the safety of staff and customers.

Businesses should apply directly through their local council for the ECC Business Adaptation Grant and to find out about other available grants.

Advice about other grant schemes in Essex is available from the BEST Growth Hub. Telephone 0300 303 4864.

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