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Business / Grant scheme for new businesses to continue

A BUSINESS start-up grant scheme in Shetland is set to continue for a further 18 months after positive feedback.

The scheme will have a pot of funding worth a total of £50,000, with Shetland Islands Council (SIC) and Highlands and Enterprise each providing half.

During an 18-month pilot launched in 2022, a total of 11 new businesses received funding – from chocolate, copywriting, construction and coasteering companies to book-keeping and fitness initiatives.

Under the scheme grants between £500 and £4,000 will be on offer.

Speaking at a meeting of the local authority’s development committee on Wednesday, SIC economic development manager Tommy Coutts said feedback had been particularly positive regarding the engagement with the Business Gateway service.

He added that the scheme was helping to make businesses “more long-term sustainable”.

Development director Neil Grant also said there was a “real need” to invest in the small start-ups to diversify the business base in Shetland.

North Isles member Robert Thomson asked about the heated economy in Shetland at the moment, particularly when it came to shortages of staff, and whether supporting new businesses might place pressure on this.

But Grant said it is large projects, like construction, that are overheating the economy.

Shetland Central councillor Davie Sandison said it was important to take note of outcomes – but reiterated there was a need to encourage entrepreneurial growth, and called the scheme “good value”.

Council leader Emma Macdonald said the £25,000 contribution from the SIC would be relatively small, but would make a significant difference to small businesses.

Speaking as a former small business owner, Macdonald said start-ups need “need the opportunity to thrive”.

In a statement, head of enterprise support at HIE Shetland Fiona Stirling said: “The first phase of the Business Start up Scheme has delivered excellent outcomes to date. We’re delighted to work in partnership with Shetland Islands Council and Business Gateway to support the next phase of the scheme and look forward to new entrepreneurs coming forward.”

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