A scheme set up to boost County Durham’s small businesses has just helped its 150th company.

The Targeted Business Improvement scheme, established by Durham County Council in 2012, has so far invested almost £1 million in local start-ups, independent retailers and small firms.

The scheme has helped create 34 new companies and 199 new jobs. It also aims to bring derelict or underused retail space back into use and to encourage businesses to grow by providing advice and funding.

The 150th small business to benefit from the Targeted Business Improvement scheme is Minni & Me, a Chester-le-Street children’s designer clothing store. Minni & Me has been trading for six months.

The store’s co-owner, Angela Clennell, approached the council for help with digital marketing and customer service training. Angela was also interested in renovating Minni & Me’s exterior to create a more appealing and accessible entrance.

The council is now working with Angela, her staff and the shop’s landlord to provide training in marketing and customer service skills and to redesign the shopfront.

Angela said, “I think the fresh new look for the shopfront will have a positive impact on the business and I’m really excited about the proposed improvements.”

150th retailer Minni and Me 2
Cllr Carl Marshall with the owners of Minni & Me Angela Clennell and Julie Boylan 

The landlord of the premises, Russell Greenfield, said, “I am really grateful for the help and support from the council.”

“The property has now been in my family for about 150 years, but I wouldn’t have been able to make these improvements without the council’s help and the shop may have had to close.”

Last Saturday, the council also helped local businesses by allowing people to park for free in all its carparks and on-street parking spaces. This initiative was part of Small Business Saturday, a national campaign encouraging people to ‘shop local’ and support small businesses.

Durham County Council’s cabinet member for economic regeneration, Cllr Carl Marshall, said, “Small businesses really are the lifeblood of our towns and villages, often offering unique products and services and providing employment for local people.”

“We are extremely keen to do all we can to support them so I am thrilled to see that so many businesses have benefitted from the Targeted Business Improvement scheme.”

“I’d also like to call on local people to show their support for independent retailers by shopping locally.”

The Targeted Business Improvement scheme is open to small businesses in a number of locations across County Durham.  

For more information, please visit www.durham.gov.uk/helpwithbusinessfunding. You can also contact the economic development team by phoning 03000 267 967 or emailing CED@Durham.gov.uk.

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David writes about local news, thought provoking stories, and yearns to capture the community spirit with a unique writing style.


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