First York are helping to drive York’s post-lockdown recovery – with the launch today of a £20,000 fund to boost indie businesses.
And they are asking for residents’ help to choose who gets the biggest share of the money.
The bus company’s York Restart Fund is aimed at helping small businesses in retail, leisure and hospitality with their revival as pandemic restrictions ease.
The fund will make awards of £1,000 to each of 15 successful applicants – with the remaining £5,000 shared between three businesses who come out on top in a people’s vote.
Applications open today (15 April) and remain open till Friday 30 April 2021, with entries submitted on a dedicated page of the First York website.
The aim of the fund is to support independent owners and small firms to grow their customer base as non-essential retail and hospitality re-opens.
The idea has the support of the FSB (Federation of Small Businesses) in North Yorkshire.
First York has teamed up with the FSB to draw up the criteria for applying and how money from the fund should be used.
Regional FSB chair, Simon Williams, who runs Yorkshire Express Services in York, and development manager Carolyn Frank will help in assessing and deciding successful entries as part of a panel including First York Managing Director, Marc Bichtemann.
Marc said: “Thriving, successful independent small businesses on the streets of the city and our outlying communities will be a vital and uplifting part of York’s recovery from lockdown.
“We want to help owners with ideas and plans as they re-open by giving them a financial boost to realise their ambitions.
“We are really pleased the FSB has joined us in launching the York Restart Fund. Its guidance in creating an easy application process to identify strong business ideas has been invaluable.”
Marc added: “I would encourage York’s small business owners to get thinking how the fund could help them and submit an entry quickly.
“There is not long to get applications in as we want to be able to make the awards in May to help businesses put their plans into action.”
Carolyn Frank said: “We are very excited about this generous offer from First York to local small businesses now reopening in the city and know that it will make a big difference.
“York is packed with great small businesses and traders serving the community, who are the heart of the city and its economy.
“This fund will help them get off to a flying start now that restrictions have been lifted and help York bounce back quickly.”
She added: “Businesses should use the opportunity to think about their business plan for summer 2021 and beyond, whether that’s investing in new markets, digitisation, training, changing your business model or investing in new equipment, let us see your innovative plans to make the very best use of the funding on offer.”
First York is the largest bus operator in the region and operates the York Park & Ride scheme in conjunction with City of York Council.
More than 100 buses transport around 50,000 people every day across York. The company operates from its James Street depot and its George Hudson Street office and employs more than 250 staff.