A scheme which helps businesses across the Marches access high-speed broadband could be a major factor in their recovery from the coronavirus lockdown, a business leader says.

Mandy Thorn, chair of the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership, says businesses could receive up to £25,000 to upgrade their internet connection and ensure they have the connectivity needed to work and trade in the new business world.

Mrs Thorn urged companies across Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin to urgently examine how the Marches & Gloucestershire Business Broadband Grant could help them emerge from the crisis by dramatically improving their broadband access.

“We have made huge strides across the Marches in recent years in improving the quality of broadband, but many companies are still suffering from slow speeds and poor connections,” she said.

“Whilst they may have been able to trade successfully before the pandemic struck, in the post-Covid business world it will be a huge disadvantage.

“We know that more and more businesses will make use of home-working, e-commerce, online ordering and delivery services as well as needing to post and download increasing amounts of data and information on a regular basis.

“To do all this – and survive – a high-speed connection is not a luxury, it is an absolute essential. This scheme helps deliver it right across our region.”

James Thompson, managing director of Sansaw Estate near Shrewsbury, said the grant had helped boost broadband speeds from 20-30Mbps to as much as 100Mbps at the business park.

“It has been transformational and as a result of what we have done we now have 100 per cent occupancy. I have done a lot of grant applications and this was one of the easiest to do. I cannot speak highly enough of the team.”

The grant – part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund – provides up to 100% of the capital installation cost and helps to match businesses with potential suppliers.

Businesses must be based in Herefordshire, Shropshire or Telford & Wrekin, be a small or medium-sized enterprise (SME) within an eligible sector, be able to demonstrate an economic case for high-speed broadband connectivity and be beyond the scope of committed broadband infrastructure roll-out plans.

To apply for the grant, companies must register on the Marches & Gloucestershire Business Broadband Grant portal at http://www.mgbroadbandgrants.com/

Registration is subject to approval and can take up five working days.  Once approved, you will be required to complete a ‘request for quotation’ form and suppliers will then submit quotes.

To see more businesses which have been helped by the grant visit: http://connectingshropshire.co.uk/business-broadband-grant/

Pictured: Mrs Mandy Thorn, chair of the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership.