Council teams worked tirelessly throughout 2020/21 to help local businesses cope with the many challenges of the pandemic - processing grants and providing support to help them weather the storm and protect jobs.
There were a variety of funding schemes in 2020 and 2021 - all designed to help the East Dunbartonshire economy cope with coronavirus and take the first tentative steps into a world forever changed.
Local authority teams administered a number of grants on behalf of the Scottish Government - including application, adjudication, appeals and payment processes.
To 26 March 2021, the Council processed COVID-19 business support worth £21,477,840 - 4,946 grants.
- 2,317 Business Temporary Closure Fund grants and 172 Business Restrictions Fund grants - totalling £3,760,625 (Strategic Framework Business Funding)
- 437 Top-Up Funding grants (hospitality, retail and leisure) - worth £2,824,000
- 420 Taxi and Private Hire Driver Support Fund grants - totalling £630,000
- 180 Discretionary Business Fund grants and five Contingency Fund Plus grants - worth £800,000.
The Council and Business Gateway East Dunbartonshire also promoted a host of support schemes from the UK Government, as well as providing advice, and online workshops and resources.
For Elspeth Talbot, who leads Bearsden-based Ralstons Solicitors, getting the right support at the right time was - and remains - "vital".
A full-time private client solicitor (dealing with the likes of wills, trusts, estate handling and inheritance planning) since April 2020, Elspeth found it a particular challenge to meet new clients with in-person restrictions in place.
She said, "I moved pretty much all of my business to the virtual sphere, carrying out meetings over Zoom, using email and mail, and investing in a legal case management system to help keep track of files.
"The lack of networking meant that I was not gaining new clients as quickly as I had anticipated and so income was limited.
"Business Gateway provided valuable support on the digital front, including how to create and use social media and a website effectively, as well as understanding background digital processes - such as search engine optimisation. They also provided a small start-up grant which helped with initial advertising."
Elspeth said the support made a significant difference to the business, which also employs a part-time paralegal.
"I'm able to carry out basic social media campaigns and have the confidence to monitor and understand who is looking at my online profile," she said. "I can see that clients often check out my online presence before getting in touch with me."
Future plans include growing the business, welcoming new clients and potentially employing additional staff.
Elspeth added, "I welcome the networking events and other online webinars, and look forward to some of these returning to in-person events."
Business Gateway East Dunbartonshire is continuing to offer advice and support -visit the business works website for more information.
Depute Chief Executive Ann Davie said, "It was an incredible effort to process and administer more than £21.4 million worth of grants in 2020/21 - helping to support the many firms, entrepreneurs and enterprises who form the foundation of the East Dunbartonshire economy.
"A range of teams from the Council and Business Gateway were involved, and deserve great praise for their efforts during very difficult circumstances. The local economy is still facing massive challenges as it continues its recovery from COVID-19 and we are here to provide as much support as possible - with our partners - helping to protect businesses and jobs across our communities."
An Economic Recovery Plan (ERP) for East Dunbartonshire was published in 2021 - providing information on work being undertaken by Council services and community planning partners, as well as a wealth of information and potential resources.
The ERP identifies key issues and actions within four priority areas:
- Business – supporting the recovery of business activity
- People – supporting residents and employment
- Community – investing in regeneration and community projects
- Environment – making progress towards a sustainable economy.