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Council / Councillors approve new business start-up grant scheme

SMALL grants will be on offer to local business start-ups through a new funding scheme.

The scheme is a joint initiative between Shetland Islands Council and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, with both organisations pledging £25,000 each.

The scheme, approved by councillors on Monday, aims to encourage new business starts while stimulating diversity and entrepreneurship.

It will offer grants of up to £2,000, but there will be additional top-ups available for some applicants.

It will operate for a pilot period of 18 months from 1 April and the funding will support early capital investment, training costs and marketing and promotion.

There will also be a further £1,000 of top-up funding available to incentivise applications from people who will contribute to Shetland’s net zero ambitions, as well as young entrepreneurs.

This means for some the maximum grant on offer will be £4,000.

Development committee chairman Alastair Cooper he was “absolutely delighted” to see the fund come to fruition.

He felt it could potentially be the difference between young people going ahead with a business or not.

“They need support in that critical stage as they enter into business,” Cooper said.

Councillors also approved continued financial support for the existing economic development grant scheme.

In 2021/22 the scheme has supported 16 projects with total grant commitments of just over £270,000.

Some changes were also approved to the Shetland Investment Fund, which was formed to support businesses through investment capital.