Stirling’s Business Improvement District has launched a range of initiatives to help the city’s business community recover from the Covid-19 crisis.
The Go Forth Stirling team has been supporting business owners from the start of the pandemic and as shops begin to reopen, measures are in place to help them prepare for recovery.
These include the provision of protective equipment, free online training courses, sector-specific Covid-19 operating guidance and an `Open for Business’ online directory.
The projects are part of Go Forth’s comprehensive campaign to assist Stirling companies during the crisis and are funded in association with the Scottish Government’s Covid-19 BIDs Resilience Fund.
The funding package, administered by Scotland’s Towns Partnership via Scotland’s Improvement Districts, aims to help the country’s 37 active BIDs play a vital role in supporting businesses and town centres during 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 proactive in supporting local businesses.
The levy payment made by traders was immediately suspended for six months and the organisation partnered with other business groups to form a local taskforce.
The taskforce – which includes Stirling Council, Forth Valley Chamber of Commerce, STEP, Business Gateway, Scottish Enterprise and VisitScotland – 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 guidance.
It includes details of available government grants, links to online forms plus a jobs portal and 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 highlights which businesses remain open – either physically or virtually – as well as providing details of what services each is offering, how to access them and information on opening days and times.
Meanwhile the team has been proactive on social media highlighting and amplifying positive 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 recently launched offering companies the chance to make clear which shops are open by displaying branded posters in their window.
Plans are also underway 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 sneeze shields and floor stickers which highlight the two-metre social distancing rule.
The protective aids have been delivered to more than 100 shops, cafes, takeaways, restaurants and banks 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 series of free online training courses run by Go Forth’s training partner Navitas Group have proved popular among business owners with hundreds signing up to train themselves and their staff 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 via the link – www.goforthstirling.co.uk/online-training
The BID website also features a downloadable series of coronavirus control guidelines to help business owners reopen – www.goforthstirling.co.uk/preparing-for-recovery
The guidelines, written by environmental health experts, look at the sector-specific steps a company needs to take to ensure a safe re-opening and operation.
They feature suggested risk assessment templates and notices to display for hospitality premises with guidance available for companies offering takeaways.
Go Forth Stirling also ran a webinar where environmental health officers gave business owners advice on how to ensure safety when reopening, recommended PPE 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 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
Information provided by Go Forth Stirling