Seaconomics funding boosts small enterprises

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TOURISM businesses across Worthing are receiving a valuable boost from a European project designed to aid seaside communities.

The Seaconomics scheme has given a £147,000 grant to the area, which has already helped deliver a new playground at Beach House Gardens and is now in its second phase.

As part of its latest instalment, Tony Bradford, MD of Sussex Learning Solutions, will be working alongside Adur and Worthing’s tourism development and marketing officer Janice Fraser, to deliver a series of practical free workshops.

Its assistance will span initiatives including IT skills training, making the most of social media and marketing, to enhancing interiors with decorative flower displays and food hygiene workshops.

The sessions, which are also receiving funding from Worthing Borough Council, aim to help small and medium enterprises achieve their full potential gearing up to the prime tourism season.

As Mr Bradford explained, the scheme, which is set to run between this Easter and June, 2014, will aid companies looking to enhance their fortunes against a testing economic climate.

He said: “I think it’s very important that tourism businesses in this area are supported and I’m delighted that we’ve been selected for funding to deliver this project.

“The core of what we’ll be offering is training in skills like IT and social media as a starting point, things that are not costly to do. You don’t need a large marketing budget as a tourism business, but doing things like social media well will make a real difference.

“There will also be workshops on accountancy and more specialised things such as interior design and about how guest houses can make the most of their rooms.

“We’ll be approaching some businesses to see if things such as Spanish language classes or Mandarin classes catering for Chinese visitors.”

Though the venues have yet to be set, the free workshops will be professionally led and will offer tourism employees some valuable tips for enhancing their respective businesses.

Bryan Turner, Worthing borough councillor responsible for regeneration, said the funding so far secured could potentially be built on, with hopes of EU funding for a further £300,000 towards assisting the area. He said: “The Seaconomics project has been set up across Europe as it is recognised that it’s not just our country that is experiencing tough times, but authorities across the Channel are also suffering as well.

“There are tandem projects going on in other coastal communities including Veere in Belgium and the Le Touquet area in France and we will be working on a shared scheme together.

“While this is aimed mainly at Worthing businesses, there will be a chance for companies in Adur to be involved with this. We have a lot of heritage in the Worthing area and this is all about trying to get more people to visit here.”

Lynda Spain, principal regeneration officer for Adur and Worthing councils, believed the scheme had plenty of potential.

She said: “The Seaconomics Project is enabling us to do so much to develop and support the tourism industry.

“We’ve got approximately £40,000 to fund this particular element of the Seaconomics programme. It’s a significant amount. Our target is to assist 40 businesses and I’m confident we’ll be able to beat that.”

For more information about the free series of courses on offer, contact Sussex Learning Solutions on 01903 204931 or visit www.sussexlearningsolutions.org.uk