The online revolution has been a key feature of the pandemic – and now small and microbusinesses in Chesterfield can embrace these digital trends in an innovative new support scheme.
The Chesterfield Digital High Street project helps those reliant on bricks and mortar to transition into an online world by creating highly visible e-commerce websites equipped with the latest forms of payment, such as Apple Pay and Google Pay, and modern shopping concepts like “click and collect”.
Funded by Chesterfield Borough Council and delivered in partnership by East Midlands Chamber, it aims to support small outfits in sectors such as retail, hospitality and leisure, which have been hit hardest by lockdown restrictions, to become more resilient.
Scott Knowles, chief executive at Chesterfield-headquartered East Midlands Chamber, said: “The pandemic has had a huge impact on small and microbusinesses in sectors such as retail, hospitality and leisure, which have previously relied on their physical venues to trade successfully.
“While we’re all looking forward to a return to normality as we come out of lockdown, it’s crucial these SMEs are future-proofed by creating modern websites to embrace some of the consumer trends that were already noticeable pre-Covid.
“Not every company can afford to do this, however, so we’re delighted to be playing a key role in supporting businesses in Chesterfield to establish and maintain the latest e-commerce solutions on behalf of the project funder, Chesterfield Borough Council.
“We believe the Digital High Street project will go some way to ensuring the much-loved independent businesses on our high street continue to thrive in a sustainable fashion for a long time to come.”
How the Chesterfield Digital High Street project will support businesses
The support available to businesses via the programme includes access to a Digital High Street adviser with specific e-commerce and online skills, who will work intensively with at least 120 businesses to help them develop and maintain their new or existing digital presence.
They will also be able to attend dedicated webinars, delivered outside working hours, and use marketing resources for free.
Grants of £2,200 – covering 100% of costs – will also be awarded to 50 of these businesses to help them set up an e-commerce website that is search engine optimised, with the package also including web hosting provision for a year and access to ongoing digital training.
All participating businesses can also benefit from free East Midlands Chamber membership for a year.
Councillor Dean Collins, Chesterfield Borough Council’s cabinet member for economic growth, said: “In Chesterfield, we have lots of fantastic local independent businesses and after the last 18 months, there has never been a more important time to support them. We hope this funding will help lots of these businesses sell more effectively online, which will help guarantee their future in our town and hopefully allow them to grow.
“It’s a really comprehensive support package and I would encourage as many local businesses as possible to sign up for the Digital High Street project because it will allow them to compete in a whole new way.”
Applications can now be made for the Chesterfield Digital High Street project at www.emc-dnl.co.uk/chesterfield-digital-high-street.