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Grants available for new retail businesses in County Durham

Published January 24, 2024 8.44am


Aspiring entrepreneurs with ambitions to set up retail, leisure or hospitality businesses in County Durham can apply for a new grant to help make their dream a reality.

We have launched the Retail Start Up Grant to support businesses in their first six months of trading.

It is part of our Towns and Villages programme and enhances the wide range of support already on offer to new and existing businesses in the county.

Funded by the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, the Retail Start Up Grant can be used to cover costs such as rent, business rates, service charges, utilities and insurance. The amount of funding awarded is determined on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the needs, location and circumstances of each business.  

Get in touch

Cllr Elizabeth Scott, our Cabinet member for economy and partnerships, said: "The first six months can be an expensive time for new businesses, especially within the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors. There are many additional expenses to cover, including acquiring new stock and equipment and fitting out the business premises. The Retail Start Up Grant offers support during this crucial time by assisting with day-to-day running costs, helping to relieve financial pressure while the business is getting established.

"Helping businesses to grow and attracting new enterprises into County Durham is a key part of our Inclusive Economic Strategy. Retail, leisure and hospitality businesses are especially important as they not only employ thousands of people, but they enhance the vibrancy of our towns and villages and attract visitors into the county. 

"I would encourage anyone who is considering starting a business in County Durham to get in touch."

For more information about the Retail Start Up grant visit, business grants and loans

Other support and funding available through our Towns and Villages programme includes:

  • The Targeted Business Improvement Scheme, which provides funding to businesses to help improve premises. Grants are available to help support new businesses into a premise and existing businesses to expand, as well as to bring derelict buildings or underused retail units back into use.
  • The Property Reuse and Conversion Loan Scheme, which offers interest-free loans to both owners and tenants in areas of high vacancy rates. These loans must be used towards the purchase and improvement of derelict or vacant properties for commercial, leisure and retail use.
  • The Retail Hub, which offers free training to support growth, increase sales and improve the resilience of independent retail and hospitality business across the county. Training includes customer service and sales, digital media, developing teamwork and dementia awareness, along with Level 2 and 3 certificates in a range of subjects.
  • The Meanwhile Uses Grant, which is part of the Retail Hub and provides funding to support shared retail spaces and the establishment of temporary retail, leisure and hospitality offerings in vacant town centre properties in between tenants.

As well as offering financial support, the council's community economic development team can provide information, advice and guidance to help retail and hospitality businesses in County Durham.