Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has put in place a range of initiatives to support the region’s economy.

It is also looking ahead to some of the longer-term support that businesses will need post the current crisis.

Dorset LEP’s business growth hub, Dorset Gateway, provides signposting to a range of advice and support, key account management and a free specialist bid-writing service – all of which are fully funded to help support Dorset’s businesses.

Calls to Dorset Gateway about COVID-19 were being logged as early as the start of March when businesses first felt the impact of the outbreak. By mid-March, Dorset LEP had invested in further resources to help signpost businesses to local and national support, seconded existing staff to new and temporary roles, helped businesses apply for government grant funding, and launched a COVID-19 Business Impact Survey for Dorset.

Finn Morgan, Dorset Gateway Manager, said: “These initiatives mean there is more help for businesses needing guidance and support, and that we’re better able to gather local business intelligence data, which is reported to the government department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy as national plans are developed. This information will also allow us to identify sectors needing specific support so that we can tailor and coordinate our resources to best meet the needs of our local businesses.”

Jim Stewart, Chair of Dorset LEP, said: “I urge all businesses to share their concerns with us through this survey, the Dorset Gateway service, or your local MP, so that we can present a Dorset-wide picture to government. I represent Dorset on a national LEP cabinet and we are in regular contact with government through different departments and MPs to highlight the needs of our businesses and communities.

“As we look to the future, Dorset LEP is exploring additional funding sources, considering a wider package of business resilience support for local businesses, including EU exit transition arrangements, as well as offering fully-funded consultancy to Dorset businesses.”

Lorna Carver, Director of Dorset LEP, said: “To date, Dorset LEP has invested our Growth Deal funding in 50 projects across the county; 24 of these are now complete and 17 on-going. Thanks to effective project management, Dorset LEP has also now awarded £8.1m to 15 additional projects. It is this successful programme of delivery and management that has allowed us to take an early and important first step in supporting the recovery of our community.”

Additionally, through Dorset Careers Hub, Dorset LEP supports over 40 schools in Dorset, engaging with employers and coordinating a network of Enterprise Advisers to work with education providers. The team has now developed a bank of virtual learning and careers guidance materials to support students, careers leaders, teachers and parents. Find the resources