Stockton’s support for the independents is praised

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Stockton’s strategy to support independent businesses was praised in a national report.

The city’s Enterprise Arcade received praise in a review of how independent retailers survived the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Against All Odds report, compiled by a team led by high street expert Bill Grimsey, says that despite unprecedented financial challenges, independent businesses have prioritized helping local communities and maintaining social connections.

It also called for councils to balance their emphasis on urban center renewal through infrastructure with prioritizing people, partnerships and communities.

She cites the Stockton Borough Council’s Enterprise Arcade as a strong example of providing safe, affordable incubation and start-up spaces for independent businesses with appropriate help and support.

The report also states: “The Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council has prioritized the maintenance and growth of its local independent retailer, dealer and personal service sector as a core objective of its high street remodeling program.

“The council set up its first enterprise arcade to provide entrepreneurs with a supportive environment and reduce risks.”

Grimsey also highlights some of the Enterprise Arcade’s success stories that have been instrumental in maintaining the emotional connection with their city centers.

The Drake Bookstore’s partnership to ensure that young people under the care of the council receive a book over Christmas has been cited with Wags and Whiskers Pet Boutique for offering a new range of pet products to accommodate the lockdown.

Councilor Nigel Cooke, Cabinet Member for Renewal and Housing, said: “This report is yet another vote of confidence in our work to make our six cities fit for the future not only by taking back control, but also for our support in appreciating the more independent Retail and service sectors.

“City centers can’t just be made up of big brands, it’s the small details and the promotion of talented companies that make the difference.

“The Enterprise Arcade was vacant for many years in the heart of the city center before we intervened and put it back into operation. It’s a prime example of how we can create a unique business experience with minimal risk and direct support.

“It’s great to see some of our small businesses featured in this report, some of whom started their lives in the Enterprise Arcade and secured a downtown area with the help of our business support team.”

The report went on to say, “Small businesses have long been underestimated by politicians and the pandemic has shed a harsh light on how they have been banned from procurement due to structural deficiencies.
“In addition, there is a widespread view, supported by a study by the UK Chamber of Commerce, that the tax system is fundamentally unfair to small businesses and that HMRC underestimates the time and cost required to keep up with the regulatory requirements to keep loads and the complexity of the system. ”



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