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BRASS funding helps Aberdeenshire businesses to tackle the impact of Covid pandemic.

Aberdeenshire businesses

More than 40 Aberdeenshire businesses have been supported with funding in excess of £240,000 to support the delivery of projects tackling the impact of the Covid pandemic.

Aberdeenshire Council launched the Business Resilience And Sustainability Scheme (BRASS) back in July to continue its efforts to support businesses during these challenging times.

The funding is now directly supporting total project costs in excess of £672,748 across Aberdeenshire.

BRASS has been administered by the council’s Economic Development Service to support the region’s most innovative and capable businesses and social enterprises to create a positive economic impact across the business sector and communities.

Aberdeenshire businesses – this scheme has proved very popular and has now closed to new enquiries and applications for the current year.

The scheme was designed to complement work undertaken by the council’s partners such as Business Gateway, Scottish Enterprise, VisitAberdeenshire and Opportunity North East (ONE) to boost the local economy and maximise the benefit to the business.

Infrastructure service committee chair, councillor Peter Argyle, commented: “Aberdeenshire Council is absolutely committed to creating the conditions for a thriving local economy.

“Be it through infrastructure and connectivity investment, the Developing our Northern Towns programme or our Town Centres Phoenix Fund, we aim to come up with innovative initiatives to support our businesses.

“The BRASS Scheme is no exception to this and I am delighted to see the support it has been able to provide to a wide range of businesses.”

Vice-chair councillor John Cox added: “Our town centres businesses have been hit hard by the emergency lockdown measures, but there are also new opportunities to be embraced and the BRASS funding will help firms from many sectors to work more collaboratively and creatively to respond to the challenges they are facing.”

Aberdeenshire businesses

Belinda Miller, head of the council’s Economic Development and Protective Services, explained: “When the pandemic struck, our discretionary grant and loan scheme ‘Support for Aberdeenshire Business (SAB)’ was placed on hold with all resources re-purposed to support business through the initial few months of the pandemic.

Peterhead Prison Museum is one of the local businesses supported by the fund
Peterhead Prison Museum is one of the local businesses supported by the fund | Aberdeenshire businesses

“Our new BRASS fund is now enabling businesses to invest in diversifying into new products and markets and is also helping them to build digital resilience and ensure that businesses have the platform and skills to do so.”

The fund is also helping to assist in the costs to businesses when securing accreditations to improve their market position and provide access to new markets.

One of those who has received help is Peterhead Prison Museum whose museum operations manager Alex Geddes explained: “Like many businesses we were faced with a challenge in 2020 owing to a four-month unexpected closure due to the pandemic, and this saw our attraction closed during what would normally be our high season.

“By the time clearance was given to re-open, we were faced with the dilemma like many other visitor attractions of being in a three-winter season and had to look at how best we could get the message out that we were again open for business after securing our “Good to Go Certificate” to demonstrate to visitors that we were a safe environment to visit.

“The decision was taken to try an advert on television showcasing our attraction in the hope it would bring visitors from across the region not only to the museum, but hopefully to support other local businesses within the Buchan area.

“However, one issue faced was the high cost of such an advert, and with losing four months of income the concept was initially placed on hold until finances could be secured.

“Just at this time the Aberdeenshire Council Business Resilience and Sustainability Scheme (BRASS) application process was opened, and we decided to apply to hopefully share the cost, as we were still uncertain of the impact of such an advert at this critical time for the business.

“During the month long run of the advert and comparing visitor numbers for the same period in 2019 to 2020 we were delighted to see that numbers had increased even during what is still a trying period, and visitor spend also increased due to the current “staycation” drive nationally helping to sustain jobs at the attraction.

Aberdeenshire businesses

“Without the support of the BRASS funding, we may have missed what has turned out to be an excellent opportunity, as many of our visitors have said they either saw the advert, or were told by friends about the advert, or they had intended for some time to visit us, but the advert spurred them on to visit, so overall a tremendous success and all due to the support of the funding allocated.”

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