Stirling’s Business Improvement District has launched a range of activities to help city-based businesses recover from the COVID-19 crisis.
The Go Forth team has been supporting business owners from the start of the pandemic and as they begin to reopen, measures are in place to help them recover.
These include free online training courses, the provision of protective equipment, an `Open for Business’ online directory and sector-specific Covid-19 operating guidance.
The projects are part of the BID’s comprehensive campaign to assist Stirling businesses during the pandemic and are funded in association with the national Covid-19 BIDs Resilience Fund.
The funding package, administered by Scotland’s Towns Partnership via Scotland’s Improvement Districts, aims to help the 37 active BIDs play a vital role in supporting businesses and town centres get through the crisis.
Go Forth Stirling Project Director Danielle McRorie-Smith said: “We were fortunate to receive a grant from the BIDs Resilience Fund which has been vital in helping Stirling’s business community recover following the pandemic.
“There are eight suggestions regarding how the grant should be spent and we have already fulfilled seven of these including developing a Virtual High Street, Destination Campaigns and Supporting PPE Supply.
“We’re also helping businesses in Preparing for Recovery by providing guidance on how to operate safely and how to reopen in line with government guidelines.
“We are working hard to give our traders as much help as possible so we can build a strong future for Stirling city centre as we emerge from the current crisis.”
Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the BID has been proactively supporting Stirling based businesses.
The levy payment made by traders was immediately suspended for six months and the company partnered with other business support organisations to form a local taskforce.
The taskforce – which includes STEP, Stirling Council, Forth Valley Chamber of Commerce and Business Gateway Stirling – set up a website www.investinstirling.com/investor-support/corona-virus-advice to act as a portal for businesses to access the most up to date advice and recent guidance.
It includes details of available government funding, grants, links to online forms plus a jobs portal and local business support hotline.
Go Forth Stirling has also supported businesses through digital campaigns including a comprehensive online directory – www.goforthstirling.co.uk/open-for-business
The `Open for Business’ directory features which businesses have remained open – either physically or virtually – as well as providing details of what services/products each is offering, how to access them and details on opening days/times.
Meanwhile the Go Forth team has been proactive on social media highlighting and amplifying messages about individual shops and eateries on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and running themed campaigns.
A colourful `We’re Open; Shop Local’ poster campaign was also launched offering companies the chance to make clear which shops are open by displaying branded posters in their window.
Plans are also ongoing for an e-commerce Voucher Scheme, run jointly by Stirling Council and Go Forth Stirling, which will offer grants to help local companies start trading online or develop their existing online activity.
Further practical projects include the provision of floor stickers and sneeze shields which highlight the two-metre distancing rule.
The protective aids have been delivered to more than 100 cafes, shops, banks, restaurants, and takeaways as part of the BID’s #Keeping Stirling Safe campaign with a total of 900 stickers and 150 sneeze guards provided so far.
Meanwhile, a program of free online training courses run by Go Forth’s training partner Navitas Group have proved popular among business owners with hundreds signing themselves and their staff up for training since April.
To date, 384 certificates have been awarded to people completing the courses.
Two new courses are on offer each month and details of all the courses, running between now and the end of September, can be found online at www.goforthstirling.co.uk/online-training
The BID website also features a downloadable series of coronavirus control guidelines to help business owners in reopening – www.goforthstirling.co.uk/preparing-for-recovery
The standards, written by environmental health experts, look at the sector-specific steps a business needs to take to ensure a safe re-opening and trading.
They feature risk assessment templates and notices to display for hospitality premises with guidance available for those offering takeaways.
Go Forth Stirling also ran a webinar where environmental health officers gave businesses advice on how to ensure safety when reopening, recommended protective equipment and what risk assessments to complete.
Ms McRorie-Smith added: “We recently updated our website to include a Covid-19 Hub which highlights all the support available to traders in addition to the regular information they receive via our newsletters.
“We are determined that Stirling city centre will come out of this crisis thriving and in as strong a business position as possible.
“We want to ensure the city continues to be a popular destination for local people and visitors alike.”
Go Forth Stirling Business Improvement District (BID) represents close to 400 local Stirling businesses with a key objective of delivering projects and services which improve the area’s trading environment to benefit businesses, shoppers and visitors.
The BID was set up in September 2017 following a vote among the city’s traders and runs for an initial five-year term.
For more details visit www.goforthstirling.co.uk