Local businesses who have been helped by a retail grants and advice scheme have described the initiative as a "great opportunity".
The Independent Retail Improvement Scheme (IRIS), launched in Market Harborough, Lutterworth and Broughton Astley earlier this year, offered funding and support to help shops attract and retain customers, as well as boost the vitality of retail centres.
The scheme was run by Harborough District Council, Harborough Improvement Team, Lutterworth Improvement Partnership, Broughton Astley Improvement Team, The Welland Challenge Fund and promoted by the Market Harborough Chamber of Trade & Commerce and Broughton Astley Business Forum.
The scheme offered a 'First Impression' grant of up to £100 to improve the outside of business premises, a 'Retail Interior Grant' of up to £750 to make internal improvements, and free retailer training workshops, with advice on marketing, visual merchandising, website design and business planning.
As part of the scheme, 30 free retail consultant visits took place, with 26 Retail Improvement Grants made and 30 First Impressions grants made.
One shop to get involved was Market Harborough business Duncan Murray Wines, in Adam and Eve Street, which gained IRIS funding to improve accessibility, displays and lighting.
Mr Murray, who runs the shop, said: "This was a great opportunity to do things we've wanted to do for five years and the feedback we've had from customers has been fantastic. It's a particularly challenging time with the economic climate as it is, so this help is really welcome. We know there's certainly more we can do, but we hope these changes encourage people to come into the shop who might otherwise pass by."
Chris Sewart , of the Harborough Improvement Team (HIT), said: "All the partners involved in the scheme were pleased at the fantastic response, and its success means we will continue to look at developing new projects that provide support for local businesses."
The success of the scheme has been welcomed by the newly-established Buzzing Business group, which was formed out of Harborough District Council's recent Business Events working to help local companies during the current economic climate.
The Buzzing Business group, which has representatives from the district council and the Chamber of Trade and Chamber of Commerce, promotes success stories and good news within the local business community.
John Hill, Buzzing Business Group member and chairman of the Harborough Chamber of Trade said: "We promoted the grants initiative because we knew it would have a positive effect on businesses who took advantage of it."
If you have a good news story for the Buzzing Business group contact John Hill at email@example.com
For more information on Buzzing Business please go to the new Harborough District Council Website.