On 4 December the Economic Development team, also known as South and Vale Business Support, received the Institute of Economic Development (IED) 2019 Impact Award, presented by IED patron Sir Howard Bernstein and Chair Bev Hurley.
The national award recognised how economic fortunes have changed as a result of a project with impressive outcomes. The team’s “Stronger Economy – Start-Up project” resulted in more than 87 new businesses start-up over an 18-month period.
Immediate past winners of this IED award are AECOM (2018) and Highways England (2017). This year, IED stated that they were particularly struck by the economic return of the project, the delivery of the service and the completeness of the team’s impact analysis.
Stronger Economy Project
From March 2018 to October 2019, the Economic Development team delivered the Stronger Economy – Start-Up project to increase productivity in the districts. A series of week-long, free, pop-up business schools were held to support start-ups and stimulate the economy in Didcot, Faringdon, Berinsfield, Shrivenham which were suffering due to economic shocks and pockets of deprivation.
This project is part of the delivery of the South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Council Business and Innovation Strategy (BIS) Action Plan 2016 to 2020 which highlights the importance of providing support to people who wish to start a business and/or be more productive. Of the more than 13,500 small and medium enterprises in the districts, just over a third are sole traders.
Part of the councils’ role is to support the local start-up business culture, increase small businesses’ resilience to economic shocks, and encourage increased productivity.
The IED national award recognised the significant economic impact of the Stronger Economy – Start Up project. The significant economic impact is seen by the number of businesses created – at the end of each week more than 33% of participants had started a business with Shrivenham seeing 48% start a business.
There are many and varied types of business created and still operating. The key to sustaining the economic impact is the initial engagement with the economic development team and the ongoing support. At each event, at least one team member was present each day to engage with participants, raise awareness of the start-up support offered, and general encouragement. Participants report being comforted knowing the team is available to support their business growth and signpost opportunities.
The national award is fantastic recognition for the work of the team to support economic development across South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse. To learn more about the support on offer, click here.