A six month pilot scheme that could help turn the tide of decline in Scotland’s town centres is due to start in Dunbar in January 2018.
The Town Catalyst CIC (Community Interest Company) offers financial and practical support to new businesses, with the aim of attracting a high quality of sustainable private business to the heart of communities, starting in Dunbar.
Supported by East Lothian Council, Town Catalyst will provide subsidised premises and running costs during a six month ‘incubation’ project in an empty unit in Dunbar High Street, plus they will receive practical support from Business Gateway and a fully qualified accountant.
Interested businesses wanting to move into retail are now being invited to apply – and Town Catalyst also wants to hear from landlords who may have suitable empty premises which could help expand the project.
“Town centres are important places for an abundance of social and environmental reasons,” said Simon Hill, Town Catalyst director.
“We hope to bring a steady flow of new viable businesses to town centres to help revitalise them, both socially and physically, re-establishing town centres that communities can be truly proud of.’
“The blight of vacant properties and proliferation of betting and charity shops, has led many of Scotland’s high streets to terminal decline. Out of town retail developments and internet shopping have hit many traditional retail businesses hard, but there are still opportunities for retail to exist in smaller town centres.”
“With the right support, independent retailers can provide specialist value and add services that all towns need. A healthy high street also reduces crime, builds community spirit and creates a pleasant place for people to meet and spend time. These are all key to ensuring that towns thrive.”
Applicants should be new businesses or existing business, not currently operating within the town. They can apply directly via the website www.towncatalyst.co.uk.
A spokesperson for Dunbar Trades’ Association commented: “ With a combination of established businesses and new start ups, the Town Catalyst programme will benefit everyone concerned, working together to help each other and the community it serves.”
Councillor John McMillan, East Lothian Council’s spokesperson for economic development and tourism, said: “This is just the type of forward-thinking project we need in East Lothian to help us achieve our aims of making East Lothian the best place in Scotland in which to live, work and do business.
“We’re delighted to be able to support Town Catalyst and I look forward to seeing the first incubator business thrive and to help the project expand not just in East Lothian but hopefully be rolled out throughout Scotland.”