Leicestershire and Rutland Councils are celebrating after having some of their exemplary work for SMEs recognised at the FSB Leicestershire and Rutland Local Authority ‘Small Business Friendly Awards’.
The awards ceremony took place at the Leicester Marriott Hotel on Friday 5 July, where FSB volunteers, staff, local Council Chiefs, Leaders and senior staff joined stakeholders from the LLEP, Universities, Cabinet Office and Department for International Trade for the FSBs inaugural annual Stakeholder lunch and local authority Small Business Friendly awards.
Charnwood Borough Council won Best Small Business Friendly Regulatory Approach for their new business coaching project, devised and delivered by the food safety team, in which they guide and coach startup food businesses to help them achieve the highest possible food hygiene rating on opening.
Leicester City Council received the FSB Best Small Business Friendly Initiative accolade for their Retail area improvement scheme which has seen shutters painted with historical images from Leicestershire, shopfronts renovated and whole retail streets painted, successfully improving the local areas for businesses and the whole community.
North West Leicestershire District Council received praise as best business support Offer for their Business Focus team, who are not only specifically tasked with offering 1-2-1 support to local business, but also offer a hefty grant funding scheme currently worth £250,000 to help business start up, grow, relocate and win new contracts, as well as separate frontage grants for businesses in Coalville.
They have also commissioned training and support from expert consultants specialising in retail, digital high streets, rural issues, women in business and more, to upskill and futureproof local businesses, as well as jointly organising regular job fairs.
The video and interviews content submitted as evidence by the council in their nomination convinced the FSB judges that not only are local small businesses thrilled with the project, but that they appreciated the chance to be involved in the council’s awards application.
Jennifer Thomas, Development Manager for FSB said: “There are some great initiatives happening across the Leicestershire and Rutland which really help to level the playing field for smaller firms, and this support is vital to our local small businesses – we thank all of these authorities for their work on these projects.”
At the start of the ceremony FSB's East Midlands regional chair Les Phillimore, himself a district councillor for Blaby, acknowledged the difficult conditions under which local authorities are operating, with challenges that include budget cuts and diminishing resources. Regardless of this, he said, the standard of entries had been extremely high.
Newly elected FSB Area leaders Jenny Cross of Cross Productions and Clare Elsby of Elsby & Co presented the awards, giving time to share details of the projects in the spirit of sharing best practice and raising awareness for the businesses and other authorities in the room.
Jenny said: “We were delighted to be able to highlight and share all of this good work and to present these awards to those activities which the FSB judges felt were the most ‘small business friendly’. This event is all about sharing ideas and best practice, for the good of our local small business community. If some of these examples of best practice can be rolled out in other districts, or if some of our members hear about an initiative they could take advantage of, then the event has done its job. We’re already looking forward to next year’s event!”
NWLeics: Councillor Tony Gillard, Portfolio Holder for Business and Regeneration at North West Leicestershire District Council: “Our team offers a huge range of business support in a growing and demanding district, with enterprises ranging from small start-ups to huge international companies. The one-to-one support we provide, as well as the grant schemes and training packages, all work to ensure we have a thriving district for business. Congratulations to the team.”
FSB local authority awards run across the UK are designed to highlight, share and celebrate the best work, projects and business support initiatives for micro, small and medium sized firms.