BUSINESSES in the Staffordshire Moorlands will be supported in getting the most out of faster broadband speeds thanks to a successful county-wide funding bid.
Staffordshire County Council, in collaboration with Shropshire Council, has won £214,000 from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) for the project, Optimising Business Broadband.
A series of events and training programmes will take now place across the two counties to ensure businesses are well placed to take advantage of access to faster broadband, which is being delivered as part of the national BDUK (Broadband Delivery UK) framework).
The project will give businesses the opportunity to have one-to-one support from experts who will visit businesses to show how they can save money and increase productivity by using fibre broadband services.
Project team members will work with businesses until the end of June 2015, helping them to boost their turnover and efficiency using fibre based broadband.
The funding complements the Staffordshire Broadband project, which has seen Staffordshire County Council, Stoke-on-Trent City Council and the Local Enterprise Partnership join forces with BDUK and BT to bring high-speed broadband to the region.
The £28 million investment will result in more than 472,000 premises – around 97 per cent of homes and businesses – having access to fibre broadband by spring 2016.
Around 95 per cent will have access to broadband speeds of 24 megabits per second (Mbps) and above.
Access to superfast broadband for Staffordshire residents is seen as a priority for the county council as it provides the means to increase opportunities for residents and boost the local economy.
Mark Winnington, the authority's cabinet member for economy and infrastructure said: "Our key priority is to bring prosperity and jobs to Staffordshire and superfast broadband is a part of our strategy on achieving this.
"However, simply installing broadband isn't enough – the ERDF funding will show businesses how they can utilise broadband to enhance the way they work, whether that's by increasing productivity, saving money or growing their business through online sales.
"This funding is great news for the county and is the culmination of a lot of hard work."
Norman Price, Deputy Chairman of the West Midlands ERDF Local Management Committee said: "In 2011 the Government announced its £530 million Broadband Delivery UK scheme which aims to provide superfast broadband to at least 90 per cent of premises in the UK.
"This broadband must be used effectively by businesses.
"To make this work it's important to help educate and inform on the potential benefits and improvements that could be made and gained as a result - from saving money by being more efficient, to recognising and exploiting new opportunities to boost profits.
"This project seeks to do just that with the support from ERDF funding".