The Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Growth Hub is reporting a fivefold increase in phone calls and a fourfold increase in web traffic as businesses seek support through the coronavirus pandemic.
The Growth Hub provides free and impartial help to new and established businesses in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, signposting them to business support and advice.
To help with growing demand it has just appointed an agriculture expert who will also work with businesses in sectors such as food, fishing and mining, funded by the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership.
Since the start of the coronavirus lockdown the Growth Hub has co-ordinated information about the local and national coronavirus support packages available, with a dedicated team helping businesses navigate what’s on offer.
In the March Budget, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a further £10 million to increase the capacity of all 38 Growth Hubs in England. The money will help fund additional staff on the ground and extend the scope of the Growth Hub’s services.
In the meantime, the LEP has funded the recent appointment of agricultural expert Chris Godolphin as one of a team of business connectors, who work directly with businesses to help identify their needs and find the right support.
Godolphin has worked with agri-businesses for more than a decade, including five years with the Rural Business School at Duchy College, and with Cornwall Development Company’s Agri-tech Project, supporting innovation in agriculture. Most recently he was part of the policy team at Cornwall Council’s Economic Growth Service.
Mark Duddridge, chair of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly LEP, which co-funds the Growth Hub, said: “Now more than ever businesses need as much support as they can get. The Growth Hub is the go-to place for expert help on what’s available to get businesses through the pandemic and out the other side. Through the LEP we have been able to make extra resources available to cope with unprecedented demand, and the extra funding from Government means we can ramp up further to help with economic recovery.”
Growth Hub operations director, Stu Anderson, added: “Many businesses are facing a desperate situation and our immediate priority is to help them through this crisis. But we are also focused on recovery and are working with neighbouring Growth Hubs to co-ordinate support, and with other business support projects in Cornwall to see if they can be repurposed to respond to the impacts of the pandemic.”
The Growth Hub is also home to the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Skills Hub which is working with Cornwall Chamber of Commerce and other business groups to look at post-recovery skills for business, where the landscape may be very different to now.
The Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Growth Hub is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund and match funded by Cornwall Council, the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and the Cornwall & Isles of Scilly LEP.
Businesses in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly that need help to understand what support is available to deal with the impacts of COVID-19 should contact the Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Growth Hub, telephone 01209-708660.