Local businesses praise Rochdale’s response to Covid-19
Date published: 26 June 2020
A recent Rochdale Ambassadors event before lockdown
Rochdale’s response to Covid-19 has been praised by members of the borough’s business community.
Rochdale Council and Rochdale Development Agency indroduced a series of measures when the pandemic first struck to support businesses get through the crisis.
The package of initiatives included managing the distribution of £43m in coronavirus business continuity grants, sending daily email bulletins in the form of the RDA’s Business Matters newsletter, a series of webinars by the Ambassadors group, This is Rochdale and press releases on areas such as returning to work, physical and mental well-being along with weekly virtual Rise & Shine meetings all designed to keep businesses in touch and informed.
Several businesses have praised the council and RDA’s response during the initial three-month lockdown.
Louise Killeen, founder of Louise Killeen Translations, said: “Right from the outset of the pandemic, the support provided to businesses by Rochdale Council and the RDA has been second to none. The regular business briefings issued by the RDA team have contained vital and reliable information. The council’s handling of the distribution of grant money couldn’t have been more efficient – the funds hit our account within 48 hours of submitting an application.”
Tony Rollins, group CEO at Atlantic & Pacific Insurance Group & Rollins Group Companies, said: “We have had nothing but the best support and guidance for our companies through Covid-19 from both the council and RDA and we continue to get support far in excess of anything offered by Oldham or Manchester from my experiences. I have found other councils hard to access and lacking in support and guidance. This is certainly not the case with Rochdale. Thank you again to RDA and RBC for all of their priceless support.”
Clare Coria, owner of Coria Commercial Finance, said adversity had brought out the best in Rochdale. “I have really felt part of the Rochdale business community and made new friendships and business connections during these difficult times,” she said. “Rochdale has really stepped up and been there to support both the large manufacturers and the one man band businesses alike. The business WhatsApp group, the Rise & Shine meetings and the Business Matters emails have been both educational and fun.”
George Brigham, general manager at Ibex Marina said the help he’d received from the council and the RDA had been ‘absolutely first class’ during the Covid-19 crisis. “Nothing has been too much trouble, with a real proactive ‘can do, will do’ attitude prevailing throughout times of uncertainty,” he said.
Paul Dixon, partner at Molesworths Bright Clegg and chairman of This is Rochdale, said: "Throughout the Covid-19 crisis, Rochdale Borough Council and RDA have led by example in reaching out and supporting all of Rochdale’s communities in ways that very few local authorities have been able to match.
"By their actions they have saved lives, supported businesses, and protected the vulnerable. As the borough emerges from the worst of the pandemic, we do so stronger and more supportive of one another than ever before."
The bulk of the £43m given to local businesses in coronavirus business continuity grants was paid out under the first two government business support schemes, which were based on business rates, and benefitted over 3,600 local businesses.
In addition, a total of £1.17m has so far been given to 153 local companies in discretionary grants, with the size of payouts varying between £2,000 and £10,000.
Applications for the discretionary grants are open until 3 July - this is open to cooperative businesses, social enterprises and businesses which supply only companies in the hospitality and leisure sectors with equipment or services.
While some payments were processed automatically, staff at the RDA and Rochdale Council have also been proactively identifying and contacting eligible businesses to help them apply for government aid. In addition, council staff were redeployed to make sure applications were processed quickly.
Councillor John Blundell, an RDA board member and Rochdale Council cabinet member for regeneration, said: “We were keen to progress the grant payments as soon as possible, recognising that many businesses desperately needed the money to enable them to stay afloat. The council and the RDA’s understanding of the private sector - the result of working closely with business over many years - allowed grant decisions to be made quickly and ahead of some other local authority areas.”
RDA chairman Paul Ormerod said: “The value of the RDA as a contact point between local businesses and the council has never been more apparent. Through remote meetings and webinars, regular publications and phone calls, the RDA’s professionals have kept in constant contact with companies during a very challenging period, offering advice, practical guidance and unswerving encouragement.”
The RDA is here to try and help businesses, both now and in the future as lockdown measures continue to ease. It can offer a range of support, including through key partners such as the Business Growth Hub. Please see:
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