County has �100,000 for work hubs in market towns

Twenty per cent of working population are home-based, says Devon County Council.

Devon County Council has �100,000 available to support the development of work hubs in up to five market and coastal towns, it has been revealed.

A new round of funding to bring forward the development of flexible work space for home-based workers and micro-enterprises across Devon has opened for applications, with grants of up to �20,000 on offer to organisations.

This builds on a pilot site, the Totnes Work Hub, which received funding in the first round, and is holding an open day on August 3 to showcase the refurbished workspace, meeting rooms and facilities on offer.

It is estimated that around 85,000 people (20 per cent of the working age population) in Devon are home-based.

Organisations from towns across county are being encouraged to submit proposals, as part of a competitive process for a grant of up to �10,000 to fund capital costs (eg internal refurbishment, furnishings or wifi hardware) and a further revenue grant of up to �10,000 to help cover running costs as the work hub gets off the ground.

In addition to the funding, Devon County Council is also providing a comprehensive package of support for successful bids. This includes initial training and advice, business support for a 12 month period, provision of a marketing and branding toolkit and campaign, access to an interior design manual and an on-line booking and membership system. There will also be a business advice service on offer to work hub users.

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Councillor Will Mumford, the council’s cabinet member for economy, enterprise and employment, said: “We believe that work hubs should be locally owned and operated, so we’re keen to hear from organisations in the public, private or voluntary sector who believe they have what it takes to turn our vision for work hubs in Devon into a reality. The focus is on supporting the conversion of space in an existing building in a town centre location, to be used as a work hub, and we want to make sure that the network is self-sustaining beyond the initial set up period.”

The development grants to convert or enhance space to be used as a work hub are available to any organisation (public, private, charity or social enterprise). They must own the property, or have a secure lease on the premises and permission from the landowner, and they must meet state aid obligations. The process is competitive, and only one work hub will be supported in each town.

Organisations are required to submit a business plan and cash flow forecast to demonstrate how their proposals will operate. There is free business advice and support available to applicants to help develop their proposals. Applicants should register their intention to apply by 5pm on August 6. The deadline for applications is 5pm on September 28.

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