Business Durham support boosts firms in post-Covid era

2022 was a year of change, as businesses transition to a new normal after two years of disruption caused by the pandemic. Companies have managed to adapt, innovate and, in some cases, thrive but many have needed a helping hand along the way.

Business Durham, the business support service of Durham County Council, has supported dozens of businesses through this challenging year, which has been defined by political turmoil at home and abroad, and a cost-of-living crisis that has sent energy bills and raw material costs soaring.

The organisation’s support has been wide-ranging, from providing grant funding and property to practical advice on all aspects of growing a business. During the pandemic, networking was done almost exclusively online but many firms returned to in-person meets last year. This gave them the chance to reconnect at regular events run by Business Durham and through business park groups across County Durham.

2022 also saw the return of conferences and festivals that have been key dates on the County Durham business calendar.

From the North East Space Conference in March, Together Towards Net Zero business showcase event in July to Durham Ambitious Business Start-Ups Festival of Enterprise in October there have been many opportunities for businesses to meet in person, share their challenges, develop ideas and find solutions to real-world issues.

2022 was also a successful year for the property portfolio managed by Business Durham, with a 95 per cent occupancy average for the year and work on Station Place in Newton Aycliffe was completed in November and is ready for tenants to move in.

Throughout 2022 the Business Durham team got out and about again, visiting local businesses to discover the challenges companies have been facing, and help with connections to support they need to overcome them.

To achieve their growth goals, businesses need access to appropriate finance to invest and develop. Business Durham-managed funding programmes, including the County Durham Growth Fund and the Finance Durham Fund, have benefited dozens of companies over the year.

As we enter 2023, there is renewed optimism among the business community, despite the inevitable challenges that lie ahead.

Sarah Slaven, managing director of Business Durham, says: “Last year businesses saw a return to a new normal as concerns surrounding COVID-19 gradually subsided. There was good engagement within the business community as companies met up again to network and share ideas.

“This year there is likely to be much more focus on the issue of sustainability. This is partly because businesses are looking to reduce their energy bills, but also because they want to create a greener economy and take more responsibility for tackling the climate crisis.”