Business Forum Meeting - March 6th 2001
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Present : Cllr. A Hill, Cllr. A Murray, Bob Reid (Scottish Ent. Ayrshire), E Hawkes (May-Tag Ltd), Bryce Weir (South Ayrshire Council), Jill Baillie (SEA), Ruth Dannan & Fiona Reid (Fringe Benefits), Joy Love (SEA), Christine Fox (SEA), June Dunlop (J Dunlop), Jim Cooper ( Electro Installab), J Jamieson (Jamieson Plant), W. Torbett (Cairn School of Motoring), S. Michael (Flower Power), Pearl Barton (Community Council), Alice Abbott (The Carrick), John Thorburn (SAC), Helen Whitefield (Community Council), John Campbell ( Campbell Exe Travel), A J W Kidd (The Ranch), Peter Mason (Community Council), David Kiltie (Community Council, J Dunabie ( J D Cameron's and D) Ian Campbell ( Mitchell and Struthers), Peter Walker (Maybole Community Development Group)

Cllr Hill welcomed everyone to the meeting and gave a brief introduction covering the last meeting.

Christine Fox and her colleagues from Scottish Enterprise Ayrshire then gave presentations about how small businesses can be helped through Small Business Gateway. 98% of the 300,000 enterprises in Scotland are small. The aim of Small Business Gateway is to focus on the customer, further improve the service they offer, implement a cohesive strategy, improve efficiency, capitalise on e-commerce and assist marketing. The project works with "Alert" which will promote roadshows to communities and offer specific support where identified. The web site of the project is www.sbgateway.com

The project has a database offering a range of services on products, services and markets. Up to date business information is available e.g. property and patent searches.

Businesses starting up can be supported with free access to information and business skills training to produce a Business Plan. E-commerce assistance is available with funding up to 500. Aftercare services are also offered. Specific help is available to women to start up to help them start up. It is important for any business forum or group to :- a) set out common objectives b) have a committed steering group with a clear role c) have regular (monthly) meetings in a regular venue d) allow members freedom to share experiences and to speak out e) be welcoming to new members f) review objectives regularly

Business growth is also supported and the nature of assistance depends on the need. The project works in partnership with South Ayrshire Council, the Tourist Board, and Auchencruive College to help create and sustain jobs.

Cllr Hill expressed thanks to Scottish Enterprise Ayrshire and invited Bryce Weir from South Ayrshire Council to say how the Council can help.

The Council have their own Business Development support for small to medium businesses - "Businesses into Computing". Businesses must be less than 11 people with no computer. Funding which results in the business paying only 15% of the cost of computer software and hardware. Larger businesses can be supported with Business Health Check software to analyse planning, finance, products and people. An action plan can be developed to progress the business.

John Thorburn from South Ayrshire Council also spoke about support available from the Rural Affairs Committee of the Council. The Business Association, if formed, would be a voluntary group and could apply for funding for shop front assistance of up to 500. John also mentioned the Leader + application being made to Europe, of which May-Tag is a partner, and which would seek to provide funding for innovative business generation. This might open up new opportunities for businesses or Associations to access the internet and market local products.

Finance may be able to be arranged to start up the Association, either from the Council or Scottish Enterprise Ayrshire, or jointly. Need to be requested.

The meeting then responded to any questions from the floor.

There was general agreement that Maybole needs to be promoted and the internet was suggested as one way of doing so, especially for tourism. E-commerce needs to be used to promote our businesses.

The development of the High Street and the entrances to the town were agreed to be crucial so that they are attractive to tourists to stop.

The businesses would need to work together with the support of the Councillors. It was felt that there was little community activity especially for the young in the town. Job prospects and training, especially for Literacy and Numeracy, were identified by businesses as needing attention.

Cllr. Hill spoke of recently funded initiatives in the town e.g. library, Cluden houses. A by-pass would help the present "stagnation" of the town because traffic congestion prevented people stopping. CCTV would also benefit the town.

A Business Association could cost renovation of the High St. and seek funding.

It was suggested that someone from a flourishing Business Association e.g. Troon may be of assistance in setting up a similar forum here. (funding available) Mr Kiltie asked if it was the general consensus of the meeting to form a Business Association and it was unanimously agreed. Mr Peter Walker will send out letters to all businesses to agree support and will prepare a draft constitution for consideration. The Community Council will call the next meeting for 4th April when office bearers will be elected.


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