Town centre businesses building for the future thanks to fund
St Helens town centre businesses have used a fund from St Helens Borough Council for a diverse range of projects including new photography equipment and eco-friendly heating and air conditioning.
Article date: 23 March 2022
Mercure St Helens Hotel has turned grant funding into an environmentally friendly programme to make their guests' stay a more comfortable one.
The Linkway West hotel has used their funding as part of St Helens Borough Council's Business Improvement and Adaptations Fund for work to make their air conditioning more efficient, providing both a better control of temperatures in the buildings and also helping the business to reduce its carbon footprint.
A spokesman from the hotel said: "Since the purchase of the Mercure St Helens in 2018, the Estee Group has invested a great amount to make this landmark hotel a centrepiece of the town again. The transformation of this 84-room hotel along with 3 function rooms and leisure facilities came with the promise to make the hotel a real cornerstone of the community, staffed by local people, using local contractors, and catering for visitors and locals alike.
"With this promise complete we now have set out on paving ways to make this hotel even more eco-friendly and the St Helens Borough Council grant has enabled us to take the first steps on this next stage for the hotel."
Meanwhile to meet the demands of changing retail habits, with significant funding support from the Town Centre Grant, OD's Designer Clothing has been able to invest in cutting-edge technology to take its online shopping experience to the next level.
As well as building three new websites and installing seven new tills which marries its online offer with instore, the award-winning business has invested in the latest photography machinery that takes 360-degree video footage of fashion items, uploaded straight to social media which makes them look more desirable to customers. This has led to the creation of a new member of staff to look after the company's social media platforms.
Owner Chris O'Dea, who has 30 years' experience in retail, said: "This grant has allowed independent businesses like us to compete with the big players in retail.
"Would I have spent the money for this equipment in the current climate? I would have been very nervous to do that, but this grant has gone some way in alleviating the cost and it's safeguarding jobs and it's likely that we'll be able to take more staff on in the future."
The grants come as a result of the Metro Mayor's £500,000 Town Centre Fund, which is benefitting businesses in Earlestown and St Helens town centres following successful application bids.
Launched in July 2021, the grant scheme aimed to develop investment and growth in town centres, enabling businesses to carry out extensive improvement works as part of their recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
Councillor Kate Groucutt, Cabinet Member for Business, Skills and Education, visited St Helens Hotel and OD's to find out more about how the fund has helped both businesses.
She said: "There has been a really diverse mix of businesses successful in applying for the Business Improvements and Adaptations Fund and it's been fascinating to see how the funding has been used in such different ways. As a council we're committed to providing as much help to our businesses and this fund shows how we're supporting our economy now, as well as our longer term plans for the transformation of St Helens and Earlestown town centres so that the businesses here now will continue to see the support from the council in the years to come."
Steve Rotheram, Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, added: "Getting town centres and high streets in all parts of our region back on the up has been a priority for me since I was first elected. During my first term, I launched a £6m Mayoral Town Centre Fund, which is benefitting communities like St Helens through projects like these.
"I know that town centres across the country are facing an existential crisis and the pandemic has only made that worse. But I'm committed to helping reimagine and regenerate these spaces and put them back at the heart of our community. Everyone should have a vibrant local high street that is a hub for people to meet, eat, shop and socialise."