A new online service has been introduced to provide a digital boost for businesses in East Suffolk.
Launched on behalf of East Suffolk Council by not-for-profit company MENTA, the Digital Springboard offers access to support, resources, workshops and grants for businesses hoping to create or improve online presence.
The project is the latest component of a wider Digital Towns programme already being rolled out across East Suffolk with the installation of free-to use public Wi-Fi linked to footfall counter technology and accompanying analytics.
The ambitious programme has been funded by the New Anglia LEP’s Innovative Projects Fund, the Getting Building Fund, and East Suffolk Council internal funding, and aims to strengthen the local economy and improve connectivity within the district's market towns.
Piloted by Framlingham in 2019, the East Suffolk Free Wi-Fi programme has since expanded to the main shopping areas of Aldeburgh, Beccles, Felixstowe, Halesworth, Leiston, Lowestoft, Southwold and Woodbridge, with the remaining towns to have the equipment installed, Bungay and Saxmundham, due to go live in the near future.
Cllr Craig Rivett, East Suffolk’s Deputy Leader and cabinet member for Economic Development said:
“We want to build the healthiest possible economy here in East Suffolk and to allow our businesses to achieve maximum potential for the good of everyone in the district.
“Among our economic priorities is the development of business partnerships that promote skills development.
“The Digital Springboard is part of that effort to help businesses adapt, grow and thrive, and provides a roadmap towards delivering online success.”
Cllr Stephen Burroughes, East Suffolk's Cabinet Member for Customer Experience, ICT and Commercial Partnerships, added:
“The launch of free public Wi-Fi across our market towns is already benefitting visitors and providing valuable insight to local businesses.
“Now we’re able to augment the broader programme by offering businesses across East Suffolk a launchpad from which to realise their digital goals, however modest or ambitious.
“Businesses looking to pivot following the pandemic, and in need of extra support to develop their digital aims, may find the support particularly helpful.”
MENTA Chief Executive, Alex Till said:
“It is an absolute delight to be working in partnership with East Suffolk Council in the development of the Digital Springboard programme.
“The Digital Springboard programme offers so much to new emerging and existing businesses, whether freelancers, retailers, service or product providers.
“With the changing trends in digital technologies, this programme will enable businesses to review their digital impact and benefit from the resources that are available under this fully funded programme.
“It is fantastic to see the progressive nature of East Suffolk Council and being responsive to the needs of businesses that we are so passionate about supporting.”
Alongside masterclasses on various digital themes, the launch of a ‘Digital MOT’ profiling tool will provide analysis and insights for businesses on their current digital capabilities, while businesses that progress through the programme will also be able to apply for a small Digital Grant to support their business growth journey.
The Digital Springboard website is simple, quick, and fun way to access the full programme including free resources, one-to-one support and events, to help people grow their digital skills and business reach. The Digital Springboard can be found by following this link.
Patti Mulcahy, owner of Lilac Thyme artisan flower shop, in Woodbridge, said:
"The Digital Springboard has helped transform my business, given me insights, help and support as well as a grant towards my plans for a new website."