Esther supports Knutsford funding bid

The boss of a Knutsford marketing agency is hoping to secure funding from Government to develop an innovative way to help protect the local high street in a post Covid-19 era.

With people changing the way they shop, and social distancing expected to be the new norm for a while, managing director of Boxed Red Marketing Ruth Gresty wanted to ensure the high street could face the challenging times ahead by creating a virtual high street.

The agency previously developed a website free of charge for Knutsford Town Council which details all information about businesses and shops in the area but now hopes to turn that idea into a prototype for all high streets.

Supported by Tatton MP Esther McVey, an application for £50,000 was submitted to the Government’s Innovation Fund to develop the idea further.

Ms Gresty said: “The pandemic has changed the way we shop, and businesses need to evolve and embrace the digital world going forward. We, as a marketing agency care very passionately about Knutsford and our community that is why we developed the website. Now we believe there is a strong opportunity to develop this website into a highly engaging and dynamic ‘virtual high street’ as a prototype web application which town councils across the UK can access and personalise to benefit all towns and cities across the UK. It would be a one-stop-shop of a local town and high street, open all hours and full of community spirit.”

In April Government announced the £20m fund which will make grants of up to £50,000 for the development of technology to help boost the UK's resilience to the long-term impact of the coronavirus outbreak and similar situations in the future.

Ms McVey said: “High Streets across the country were struggling long before Coronavirus and now they have been forced to temporarily close. These shops play a vital role in our local community and I want to see them thrive. This web application, creating a virtual high street would help people know more about their local services and allow people to support their local shops which is so important, and we have seen so much of it in recent weeks in terms of where people are sourcing their food and other products and services.

“Boxed Red’s idea is great, and I really hope they are successful with their bid and I was very pleased to be able to support them in putting Knutsford firmly on the map.”

Ms Gresty believes there is a digital divide in the country and this idea could help vulnerable businesses which did not have an online presence.