Published on 10 August 2020
Archived on 10 September 2020
Jim Clark is an account manager at the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) Growth Hub and covers Stratford-upon-Avon.
The Alcester resident ran a £40 million worth business in the area and was involved in two management buy-outs before becoming a self-employed consultant prior to joining the CWLEP Growth Hub.
Here, Jim explains the help he has been giving to businesses throughout Covid-19 and looks ahead to the future.
"Since the first days of the Coronavirus pandemic, all the account managers at the CWLEP Growth Hub have been providing a helping hand to businesses throughout Coventry and Warwickshire.
"In Stratford, I have been dealing with businesses mainly in the retail sector and providing a listening ear has been just as important as giving practical information in the way of details about the grants and loans available through the various schemes launched by the government.
"As everyone has said, this has been an unprecedented time and it has been extremely worrying for business owners.
"I have been a sounding board for a clothing retailer in the town centre and I know she has been grateful for me being at the other end of a telephone to listen to her fears for the future of her business.
"The same applies to a high-profile business just outside Stratford where one of the management team was at breaking point because of the stress involved. I was able to make a telephone call to a contact at his bank to resolve a problem as well as helping them with guidance about re-purposing their business and they can now see a light at the end of the tunnel.
"Walking round Stratford on Saturday, there were two clear "faces" to the town centre.
"The café culture of Henley Street was like a normal summer's day since it was bustling and the cafés looked as if they were doing a roaring trade.
"Bridge Street was also busy, and the new trees are a great addition and there's going to be more features introduced to make the town centre look more attractive.
"There are two sorts of retailers in Stratford town centre - those who deal with the local community and those that are dependent on international visitors - and they need help because they rely on the culture, leisure and hospitality sector to attract shoppers.
"The Growth Hub is here to help and not just in terms of helping businesses to apply for grants or loans. I have experience of similar tough times since I've been involved in two recessions so I can relate to the helplessness many are feeling right now.
"It is tough - there is no hiding from that - but by working together, we can assist businesses with a recovery plan including securing help from the Government's Reopening High Streets Safely Fund which is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and is being supported by Stratford District Council.
"To get in touch with me, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will do my best to help."
Stratford-on-Avon District Council
Elizabeth House, Church Street,
Tel: 01789 267575