FRIDAY, JUNE 1: It’s amazing to think that we are already writing the fifth edition of EEZy Does It! In my first article I discussed exactly what an Economic Empowerment Zone (EEZ) was and how the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation (BEDC) and its Economic Empowerment Zones Agency (EEZA) was making a difference in the various zones.
With my next few articles I want to dig a little deeper into the various BEDC incentives and policy tools aimed at assisting businesses to grow and become more sustainable in our three zones.
Today I’ll focus on our “BEDC EEZ Small Business Grant of Technical Assistance and Advice”.
While our first impetus for the development of these products was to assist those businesses already located in these three zones, we also knew we needed to incentivise entrepreneurs to actively consider the EEZs as viable places to either start a new business in or relocate an existing business to.
Through our research of examples overseas, we knew that by increasing the number of thriving businesses located in close proximity to each other, there would be a better chance for overall economic regeneration to occur in those locations.
Locating businesses near each other does more than increase chances of a sale for a specific business; it also increases foot traffic to the entire area.
This is why malls are so popular. Consumers go there because they can go to many places in one trip.
The same logic applies to shopping districts. Locating next to other businesses including your competition provides a greater opportunity for a sale to take place.
This is why we have the EEZ grant product. It was essentially designed to give entrepreneurs and businesses access to some of the seed money needed to set their business on the right path to success.
By no means were the grants intended to be the panacea to all businesses’ issues.
But they were intended to be one in an arsenal of tools to assist EEZ businesses to get access to the expertise and resources necessary for them to be successful.
Through our research locally we found that businesses in the zones were going through the day-to-day motions to run their business but needed help to grow and move their businesses forward.
The purpose of the grants continues to be to finance small business planning in the EEZs. The grants have assisted businesses with financing such things as:
- Business plans;
- Renovation and/or development plans;
- Marketing or branding/rebranding plans;
- Accounting services;
- Obtaining legal business advice; and
- Other non-working capital schemes
Currently, grants are being offered up to a maximum of $5,000 each and the number of grants that can be given in any year is dependent upon the budget available; the number of applications received; and the scope of business needs contained in the applications.
Any business based in an EEZ or looking to be based in an EEZ is eligible to apply subject to various requirements.
Since 2007 BEDC EEZA has awarded EEZ grants totaling over $327,000 assisting some 37 small businesses in the process. 70 per cent of those businesses are still in existence in 2012 due in part to the assistance afforded with the EEZ grant.
For the immediate future, our current focus of available grants will be on businesses in the newly established Somerset and St George’s EEZs as the NE Hamilton EEZ has already had the benefit of this incentive for the last four years.
For further details and additional information on how to apply for a grant, the process, and the terms and conditions can be found online at www.bedc.bm. You can also contact the EEZA at 292-5570 or e-mail email@example.com.