Pubs reap benefit of county council investment

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A small business fund available from Ceredigion County Council has seen 10 out of the 70 projects in the scheme arising from pubs in the county following Pub is The Hub’s diversification model.

Ceredigion County Council’s Micro Business Investment Fund* is a grant scheme that launched in July 2014 aimed at supporting new and existing micro businesses in Ceredigion. Its aim is to support projects that help create new jobs, increase revenue or create new sources of revenue and grants start from a minimum of £1,000 up to a maximum of £5,000.

Pubs fall into the scheme’s definition of a micro business – which is defined as an enterprise that employs fewer than 10 full time equivalent members of staff with an annual turnover and or balance sheet of under €2m and is available for businesses operating in manufacturing, retail, construction, hospitality and entertainment and food – and this has meant that they have been able to pick up support and advice from rural pub champions, Pub is The Hub.

Pub is The Hub is a not-for-profit organisation initiated by HRH the Prince of Wales in 2001, which offers independent specialist advice on rural services diversification or community ownership of pubs. With a solid track record of rural project development and delivery over the last ten years, Pub is The Hub has worked with supportive licensees to open schemes such as post offices, shops, training centres, provision for allotments, play areas, libraries, school meals and pubs being run by their own local community.

So far pub schemes arising from the Micro Business Investment Fund have included a community cinema club, a marquee to house a weekly community market, community space for Welsh language and other adult learning classes, a mobile signal booster (located in the pub) with wifi and two laptops – one of which will be kept in the bar area for free use by locals – and a practise room for a local choir.

Samantha Allen, Assessment Officer for the Micro Business Investment Fund said: “The Pub is The Hub scheme has been well received in Ceredigion. Although many areas of the county are well serviced there still remain villages where the only public place left now is the pub. In particular these rural pubs have been more encouraged by the scheme and have looked at what they are able to do to help their community.

“Even those who have not yet decided to take up this initiative yet may still decide to do so in the future and I have enjoyed being given an opportunity to work on such a worthwhile project and am pleased to see this scheme making a difference to my local area.”

Pub is The Hub’s Advisor for Wales, Malcolm Harrison said: “I think the grant should be praised because it recognises exactly what small businesses require and gives them a major boost in allowing them to do more than their limited capital reserves would normally allow. Another encouraging factor is that it is a relatively simple process that has been managed extremely well and is a superb example to illustrate to other authorities how such a simple scheme can have a significant impact.”

The administration and advisory service supporting this initiative in Ceredigion has been funded through the joint co-operation initiative between Pub is The Hub and Cadwyn Clwyd (the Regional Development Agency for Denbighshire and Flintshire). The co-operation project for is being managed by Cadwyn Clwyd and is funded through the Rural Development Plan for Wales 2007-2013 which is funded by the Welsh Government and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.

*The Ceredigion Micro Business Investment Fund is supported by the Rural Development Plan for Wales 2007-2013 which is funded by the Welsh Government and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD). It is available until November 2014.