Business support project extended

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SCOTTISH Borders Council has been successful in applying to extend a project which has helped hundreds of Borders businesses.

In partnership with Dumfries and Galloway Council, SBC made an application to the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) to extend the South of Scotland Business Competitiveness Project, which now has an overall project value of £1.6million.

Delivered through the respective Business Gateways in the Borders and Dumfries and Galloway, the project provides specialist business support to key sectors locally.

These include food and drink, forestry, tourism and renewables.

Since the project began two years ago the project has helped to support over 200 businesses and has assisted with 22 new business start-ups.

As a result, it can boast helping to create 60 jobs in the area.

One of the key areas for the project has been supporting businesses in the respective sectors to improve their online presence and develop online trading.

A Scottish Borders Council spokesman said: “The extension to the project to March 2015 will enable the work already established to be continued and developed.

“This will include supporting businesses to take advantage of opportunities in 2014/15 such as the Ryder Cup, Glasgow Commonwealth Games and the opening of the Borders Railway.”

He added: “The additional funding means a greater number of e-commerce workshops, assistance to develop sustainable business processes, a feasibility study into renewable energy opportunities, development of the food and drink sector and development of tourism trails.”

The project has been equally successful across in Dumfries and Galloway, where it has helped almost 70 tourism businesses to take part in quality assurance workshops in partnership with VisitScotland, which has enabled them to improve their star ratings.

More than 80 businesses have also been able to undertake procurement training to help them when it comes to bidding for work.

Almost £600,000 from European funds kick-started the project in August 2011.