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When I re-joined the New Anglia Growth Hub in January 2020, I did not foresee that I would be leading our team through one of the most challenging years many of us have faced.
Our team, like many organisations, had to move to remote working, at a time when incoming calls and emails greatly exceeded normal levels and the nature of those enquiries was, in many cases, harrowing. I am very proud of the work that was undertaken by everyone in the Growth Hub at that time.
Towards May/June the general nature of received enquiries changed and we began to hear talk of determination, diversification and business growth, whatever the circumstances. In line with that shift, the grant opportunities we had to offer increased. In January, we had two established grant schemes: the Growing Business Fund and the Small Grant Scheme. By May, these had been joined by the Business Resilience and Recovery Grant Scheme and the Growth Through Innovation initiative. In addition, in September, the Visitor and Wider Economy small grants were introduced.
Consequently, as a result of some intensive work, when it was not unusual for one adviser to be working on 6 grant applications at the same time, since April 2020, the New Anglia Growth Hub has assisted a large number of clients in collectively obtaining a total of £6.5 million in grant support, with individual awards ranging from £1,000 to several thousand.
This work will continue into 2021 but we do so much more. The team has been strengthened. We now have a total of 27 highly motivated employees who provide a wide variety of support and guidance.
Many companies are focussing on enhancing employee skills in order to enable ‘trading in the new normal’ and this will be a key subject in 2021. It will keep our specialised Skills Advisers very busy and our virtual and if possible, live events programme is taking notice of the subjects our clients have requested.
The end of the year certainly does not mean the end of some very difficult challenges and whilst we do not have any magical answers, the New Anglia Growth Hub will continue to support businesses in Norfolk and Suffolk to the very best of its ability – something it has done since 2014.
Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas and a safe and happy New Year.
Growth Hub Manager
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