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Extra support for creative businesses

We're launching a new business support programme for businesses and individuals working in the creative industries, as part of our Regional Recovery Plan. It's aimed at small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) working in the creative industries, including creative freelancers, that require support as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

It's designed to build resilience and support change in response to Covid-19. It will offer support for individuals and management teams to reformulate operating and financial models and business plans through mentoring, peer networks and training and workshops. There will also be grants for creative projects that support recovery and resilience.

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E-scooter rental expansion to include hospitals

Southmead, Brislington, Emersons Green and Weston (in Bath) are among the new areas where residents can now use rental e-scooters to access essential work and services. Following the successful launch of our e-scooter trial, the trial area for the ‘hop-on hop-off’ e-scooters has expanded to include new areas including the Royal United Hospital in Bath and Southmead Hospital in Bristol.
New areas in the trial include: Southmead, Emersons Green, Downend, Mangotsfield, Staple Hill, Kingswood, Hanham, Brislington, Knowle, Hillfields, St George, Bishopsworth, Upper Weston and Lower Weston.

While the lockdown is in place, e-scooter operator Voi Technology, is offering free rides to NHS workers, emergency service personnel and the armed forces, providing these key workers with a green and socially distanced alternative to commute to and from work. Almost 1,600 riders have used the “Voi 4 Heroes” scheme – making a total of more than 21,500 rides. Since the launch of the West of England e-scooter trial, in October 2020, there have been over 225,000 rides taken and almost 615,000 miles travelled.

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Business support to retain talent and safeguard jobs

Careers organisation Adviza has launched a free Talent Retention service for businesses in the West of England, as part of our “Workforce for the Future” skills programme, to help kick-start the region’s recovery following the Covid-19 outbreak.

The service is designed to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) retain, redeploy and develop their workforce, and plan for the future. Adviza’s expert Talent Retention team will help SMEs assess cost-saving and talent retention options to keep valuable knowledge and skills within the business. 
The team will provide support to business owners and managers faced with difficult decisions, working with them to help safeguard jobs, maintain stability and engage their workforce so they are business-ready for the future. It will also signpost partner services that offer support both to businesses and employees in these challenging times.
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Tech Adoption Lab transforms businesses

A new scheme – the first of its kind in the UK – is giving business owners in the West of England the chance to transform their companies through technology. We’ve set up the Tech Adoption Lab with technology experts Cisco and business movement Be the Business.

The Tech Adoption Lab helps small and medium sized (SME) business owners identify ways in which technology can help grow their business. It focuses in particular on one of the biggest frustrations faced by business owners when they buy technology: how to select and then make a success of the right tech solution.

Ten companies have been through a successful pilot of the scheme, which is now being rolled out more widely. The results have been resoundingly positive. For many of the business owners, the Tech Adoption Lab helped them think through the opportunities presented for their business or helped them turn their plans and ideas into action.

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Engagement will guide the future of mass transit

Early engagement with stakeholders from across our region shows that a new mass transit system must offer flexibility on transport options; put work, housing and education opportunities within reach of everyone, and encourage more active travel.

Mass transit is a high-capacity public transport network that provides fast, frequent and reliable services, often segregated from other traffic. It could potentially be made up of several different types of transport, with links to existing rail and bus services.

During February and March 2021, we held webinars and focus groups with local communities, businesses, environmental organisations and transport stakeholders to understand their priorities and any barriers to future use of our mass transit system. This feedback will provide evidence for the Strategic Outline Business Case as we begin to develop options for further consultation with the public.

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West of England Mayoral Election

Poll cards are being posted out ahead of the West of England Mayoral Election. On Thursday 6 May, residents in Bath & North East Somerset, Bristol and South Gloucestershire will be able to vote for a West of England Regional Mayor.

The Regional Mayor leads the West of England Combined Authority (WECA); leading the development of regional business, skills, housing and transport – issues that impact people living and working across the region. WECA also leads on the recovery plan for the region, to make sure that the right support and infrastructure is in place for residents and businesses to drive the region’s recovery.

In order to vote in this important election residents must be on the electoral register. The deadline to register to vote is midnight on Monday 19 April.

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Upcoming events
  • Using the power of PR to boost your small business - 30 March - 11am - sign up here
  • Setting up a Mentoring Programme in your business - 31 March - 10am - sign up here
  • Retail in the West of England - Thriving in a Digital World - 31 March - 10am sign up here
  • Black Entrepreneurship - Community Conversation - 12 April - 9:30am - sign up here

The West of England Combined Authority (WECA) covers
Bath & North East Somerset, Bristol and South Gloucestershire.
WECA also supports the Local Enterprise Partnership and
Joint Committee, which includes North Somerset.

Our mailing address is:
West of England Combined Authority, 3 Rivergate, Temple Way, Bristol BS1 6ER

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