RETAIL businesses in the Formartine area have responded well to the offer of grant assistance from Aberdeenshire Council.
The council wants to maintain the centres of towns and villages in the area as attractive places to shop and visit, and set aside funding from the Towns and Villages programme.
Already a number of enquiries have been made about funding through the Formartine Retail Improvement Scheme.
The first grant offer has been issued, to assist a business to move into larger and more suitable premises in the centre of Turriff.
Grants of up to £5000 are available to assist with a wide range of internal and external improvements to properties.
Qualifying businesses will be based in the centres of Ellon, Turriff and Oldmeldrum, or in rural communities and villages in the Formartine area.
The grants can be used for a range of work, including refurbishment of traditional architectural features, shop window displays, buying specialist equipment or redecoration of frontage.
Formartine Area Committee chair, Councillor Rob Merson said: “Given the interest in the scheme, we have decided to allow an extended period for businesses to make applications for assistance and to obtain the necessary estimates.
“This project is an important part of our efforts to protect local businesses and keep the centres of our towns and villages vibrant and healthy.”
Committee vice-chair, Councillor Paul Johnston, said: “As an experienced retailer I would agree this is a fantastic opportunity and I would urge local businesses to take advantage of the scheme.
“Whether it is a simply tidy up of the exterior, new signage or better customer facilities inside the premises, the grant scheme can help businesses deliver better services to their customers and help keep our town centres and villages attractive and busy.”
Bliss Gift and Flower Boutique in Turriff is the first business to benefit from the scheme.
Gayle Thores, who co-owns the company with Tracey McIntosh and Angela Kinsella, said: “We are delighted that this funding is available to businesses like ours.
“There was nothing like this that we could apply to when we first set up the business two years ago.”
Anybody interested in applying, or looking for more information, can contact Douglas Rennie on 01466 628100 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.