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Council initiatives and events to support local businesses

Our economic development service, initiates or works with partners to deliver initiatives in support of local businesses and the local economy.

Current initiatives are listed here and provide information and links to see how your business can benefit.

New initiatives and opportunities to work with the council and its partners will be publicised in our business support enews letter. You can sign up to receive it at  Sign up to the Business Support eNewsletter

On this page:

The New Forest Business Boost Programme 2024

Our Business Boost programme, delivered by the University of Portsmouth, is a dedicated, bespoke and free programme specifically created for businesses to improve productivity and support their business resilience and growth.  

You can find more information on Business Boost and how to register your interest.

The New Forest Shop Doctor Programme 2024

'New Forest Shop Doctor' supported independent retail and hospitality businesses across the district. 

The Shop Doctor mystery shopper visits provided a rare opportunity for independent retail and hospitality businesses to see their business as their customers do and learn how to enhance their experience, so they keep coming back.    

32 businesses participated in Shop Doctor 2024.  Over the past five years, 238 New Forest businesses have benefited from this programme. 

The mystery shopper visits, and subsequent confidential reports to the participating businesses, were undertaken by retail expert Jim Smith from Insight6 (Surrey and Hampshire).  

Jim Smith has also recorded a Shop Doctor video with hints and tips that are relevant to all retail and hospitality businesses, whatever their size and location. 

The Shop Doctor Programme has now finished, however, you can receive updates on future programmes and other support to help your business by signing up to our free business support enewsletter

Funding for Shop Doctor  

This project is funded by the UK government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.

The UK Shared Prosperity Fund is a central pillar of the UK government's Levelling Up agenda and provides £2.6 billion of funding for local investment by March 2025. 

The fund aims to improve pride in place and increase life chances across the UK investing in communities and place, supporting local business, and people and skills. 

The New Forest Start a Business Support Programme 

Whether you are thinking of becoming self-employed or have a business idea that you would like to explore, or are looking for ways to increase your turnover, grow your existing business or just do things more efficiently, our free support could be perfect for you. 

Find out more about The New Forest Start a Business Support Programme.

For updates on other initiatives to support your business, please sign-up to our business enews. 

The New Forest Apprenticeship and Skills Hub 

We have partnered with Solent Business & Skills Solutions to launch the New Forest Apprenticeship and Skills Hub..  

This offers free and impartial advice to New Forest based organisations of any size regarding apprenticeship and skills training, helping to remove the barriers of entry for businesses eager to invest in the development of their workforce. 

Film:New Forest

A million possibilities; one unique place. The New Forest is a beautiful part of the country and is well known as a popular tourism destination, but the area is not in fact new, isn't all forest, and many will be surprised at the variety of filming possibilities and locations available here.

The district is famed for its untouched woodland and far-reaching heathland, but alongside this is settings of vast coastline, historic buildings, flowing rivers, picturesque roads, industrial sites, bygone villages, free-roaming animals, and much more.

In addition to the primary aim of encouraging spend on local goods and services this project, developed by us and our partners, seeks to deliver the following benefits:

  • opportunities for owners of local premises to offer their facilities for filming locations
  • a network of businesses within this sector to share best practice and opportunities
  • engagement with local students to provide career opportunities and improve skills
  • development of best practice to ensure that filming which takes place does not negatively impact the natural landscape

For further details, see our dedicated Film: New Forest project website.

Broadband Infrastructure

We are supporting The Hampshire Superfast Broadband Programme, managed by Hampshire County Council. 

Project Gigabit is the government programme to deliver gigabit capable broadband across the UK by 2030.

The latest documents set out a proposed procurement pipeline for Phases 1 and 2 with modelled premises numbers, multi-million-pound investments and target timelines to reach communities from Northumberland to Cornwall that would otherwise be left behind. 

Hampshire is in Phase 1B of the procurement timeline with procurement documents expected to be issued at the end of April 2022. 

More information can be found on the Hampshire Superfast Broadband website.  

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