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Welcome to the July 2023 edition of Business Beat.

This is your regular update from South Ayrshire Council’s Economy and Regeneration team on support and current grants available for your business, along with a round up of upcoming events.

Funding programme for rural Ayrshire and islands open for applications

If you’re involved in a community group or run a business in rural Ayrshire, you could be eligible for funding from the Ayrshire Rural and Islands Ambition (ARIA) programme. ARIA has just opened for its second year and has £450K to allocate for eligible projects in rural communities across Ayrshire.
The ARIA Fund is part of the Scottish Government's Community Led Local Development (CLLD) programme. It is led by the ARIA Local Action Group (LAG) and administered by South Ayrshire Council.
ARIA is running three funds for 2023/24:
  • ARIA Main Fund
  • ARIA Communities into Action Fund 
  • ARIA Community Asset Maintenance Fund
The ARIA Main Fund is for community groups/third sector organisations, businesses, farms and any organisation with up to 249 employees, while the ARIA Communities into Action Fund is for community groups and third sector organisations.
Grants from £5K - £50K are available, at up to 90% of total eligible project costs, with at least 10% match funding. For both funds, grants can be used for a wide range of projects. Applications are open until Friday 11 August 2023.
The Community Asset Maintenance Fund aims to provide support to maintain community buildings and is open to community groups/third sector organisations and a community asset. Grants up to a maximum of £7K are available, and up to 90% of total eligible project costs, with at least 10% match funding. Applications for this fund are open until Friday 29 September 2023.
Family-run business Little Peru who offer alpaca trekking and eco glamping pods on their site near Crosshill, was awarded ARIA funding last year. Owner Robin Kelly commented:
“The ARIA application process was supportive and transparent. It made us hone and reflect on our core business values and bring our vision to life. The funding and guidance from ARIA have provided the springboard for our business to grow and prosper.”
If you’re interested in applying, contact ARIA as soon as possible, as grants can only be awarded to applicants who have engaged with the fund. There are also online information sessions over the next few weeks and it’s recommended anyone interested books onto a session.
To find out more or to begin the application process for ARIA funding, visit 


Are you familiar with Fair Work Ayrshire?

Fair Work Ayrshire is a free service to Ayrshire businesses which is funded by the Ayrshire Growth Deal. The service provides a tailored supportive approach to allow the business or organisation to introduce and grow fair work components in everyday practice for lasting positive change.


Fair Work Ayrshire supports, enables and empowers employers to introduce Fair Work into the workplace, part of the community wealth building objectives to improve the prosperity of Ayrshire businesses and people.


There are numerous benefits for businesses in adopting Fair Work, including increased productivity, a reliable and sustainable workforce and inclusive growth. Adopting sustained fair working practice across your business will be looked on favourably in public contracts as can form part of the scoring process. For communities and residents, Fair Work can mean increased financial security, reduced child poverty and better physical health.


The first step to becoming a Fair Work business is to meet with one of the Fair Work Ayrshire team.


To set up a call or meet in person, email

Build a sustainable future with Scottish Manufacturing Advisory Service

Rapid advances in digital technology are transforming the ways we design, build and sell our products and services. The Scottish Manufacturing Advisory Service (SMAS) is designed to help manufacturers in Scotland build a sustainable future. Delivered by Scottish Enterprise, it’s for businesses across all sectors and of all sizes, across the whole manufacturing supply chain.
SMAS can help your manufacturing business identify cost savings and efficiencies, adopt digital technologies, build sustainable change and boost business resilience.
If you’re based in Ayrshire, and looking to improve your manufacturing process and plan for a sustainable future, contact SMAS Manufacturing Practitioner Reg Stewart at
For more information, see SMAS support for your manufacturing business - Scottish Enterprise (

See details on the SMAS Business Breakfast and also the SMAS Business Improvement Academy (BIA) in the Events Round-Up.

Digital Dairy Chain Milk Round Accelerator

Do you have a digital technology idea or solution that could help dairy production, transport or manufacturing? The Digital Dairy Chain’s Milk Round Technology Accelerator programme may be able to help.

Digital Dairy Chain is a five-year, UK Research & Innovation funded project, with a budget of £21 million to transform the dairy sector in Cumbria, South and West Scotland, and uplift the rural economy, via grant funding and sustainable solutions.

The project’s Milk Round Technology Accelerator programme offers hands-on technical, engineering and business support to help individuals or SMEs with technology ideas to help the dairy sector improve efficiency or reduce its environmental impact. The programme will help you develop your concept and fast-track it to demonstration and testing.

Participants will receive a wide-ranging tailored support package that includes up to 15 days hands-on technical and engineering support which can be spread out across the January to July programme period, mentorship, introductions to partners to help support your business as it grows, a budget of up to £10,000 to procure components and more.

For more information see: Milk Round Accelerator - Digital Dairy Chain or email:

Get involved – The International Ayr Show 2023

The International Ayr Show - Festival of Flight is coming to Ayr shorefront on 8 – 10 September 2023 and looks set to be a thrilling event featuring a fantastic range of entertainment for all the family, iconic aircraft and daring aerial displays.
There are lots of ways to support the International Ayr Show. It’s a great opportunity to reach a wide audience, give back to your community and support engagement in STEM.
If you’re interested in supporting this community event, you can help by becoming a volunteer or sponsoring one of the incredible aircraft on display. To become involved, email:

Ayrshire Business Week 2023:
Monday 2 – Friday 6 October

Ayrshire Business Week is back from Monday 2 – Friday 6 October 2023, organised by Ayrshire Chamber of Commerce.

The week is packed with engaging events, from the very popular B2B Exhibition to the Ayrshire Business Awards Dinner and the launch of the Ayrshire Regional Economic Strategy.

It’s a great way to strengthen business links, source products, network and secure new business.

Find out more about the full events programme by visiting:

Looking for a loan?

Are you looking to introduce new processes or equipment to your business? Or maybe planning an expansion? Have you raised all the cash you can from your own resources and the banks, but there's still a funding gap? South Ayrshire Council might be able to help gap fund your project through our partners at Business Loans Scotland (BLS).

We operate loan funding from BLS to encourage the creation and growth of South Ayrshire businesses to ensure that good, commercially viable proposals do not fail from a lack of access to finance. We also want to support and encourage the creation, development and growth of Scottish businesses, helping them to trade regionally, nationally and internationally.

Through BLS, we can offer loans from £25,000 to £250,000, with loans of up to £50,000 typically unsecured. The interest rate is currently fixed at 11% with no additional fees or charges and a repayment period of up to 5 years.

For more details, see Business Loans Scotland

Update your skills with Ayrshire College

Ayrshire College offers a range of courses for those looking to develop their professional or technical skills, via on-line, face-to-face and day/evening classes. A wide range of subjects is available, from digital skills and project management, to REHIS Food Hygiene and BIIAB Personal Licence Holder.

To views all forthcoming courses, go to:

Remember, through Individual Training Accounts (ITA), you can receive up to £200 support towards course fees for some courses. For further information and to see which courses are available, go to:
Individual Training Accounts (ITA) (

Further delay to Deposit Return Scheme

Plans to introduce a Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) for single-use drinks containers in Scotland have been pushed back again – this time until October 2025 at the earliest. The scheme which was initially due to launch this August had previously been delayed until March 2024.
The latest delay is due to a disagreement between the Scottish and UK Governments, with Westminster wanting glass excluded from the scheme so a UK wide approach can be taken.
Under the proposed scheme, when anyone buys a drink, they pay a 20p deposit for the bottle or can it comes in, which they get back when they return their empty bottle or can to a collection point to be recycled.
For more information on the DRS in Scotland visit Deposit Return Scheme
All the events below are free to attend, but registration is required.


The two events below are run by Business Gateway and take place at County Buildings, Wellington Square, Ayr, KA7 1DR
Start Up your Business
Wed 12 July, 10am – 12 noon
This workshop is part of series aimed at people who are planning to start or have just started a business and need to know the basics of what to do.
For more information and to book your space go to:
Start Up Your Business | Business Gateway
Social Media for Business Masterclass
Fri 21 July, 1.00pm – 3.30pm
Facebook, Instagram and Tiktok are all covered in this session which aims to make sure you remain ‘business focussed’ through your social media usage and don’t waste time hoping for some vanity likes. Creative examples, business dangers, and practical tips and tricks are among the topics.
For more information and to book your space go to:
Social Media for Business Masterclass | Business Gateway

Ayrshire Chamber event
Connect @ Brig o’ Doon
Friday 28 July, 10.00am – 11.30am
Brig o’ Doon House Hotel, Alloway, KA7 4PQ
Join the Ayrshire Chamber team at their monthly Connect event for a morning of networking and new connections, taking place this time at the beautiful Brig o’ Doon hotel. Open to non-members also.
For more information and to book your space go to:
Connect @ Brig O Doon | Ayrshire Chamber of Commerce


The three events below are run by Business Gateway and take place at Business Gateway North, Quarry Rd, Irvine KA12 0TH

Using and Creating Videos to Grow Your Business
Thurs 6 July, 10am – 12.30pm
Learn how to use video content to bring you brand to life. The different types of video, planning content, what makes a video engaging and the tools to use are all covered in this hands-on workshop.
For more information and to book your space go to:
Using and Creating Videos to Grow your Business | Business Gateway
Digital Ads Strategy and Implementation
Tues 18 July, 10am – 12.30pm
Understanding digital advertising helps you grow your business faster, boost your return on ad spend and find better audiences than other digital marketing techniques. This step by step class will show you how to target your first customers online, build audiences, retarget engaging customers and more.
For more information and to book your space go to:
Digital Ads Strategy and Implementation | Business Gateway
Funding the Business in the Short Term
Wed 26 July, 9.30am – 12 noon
This session will cover a range of funding options and alternative funding sources for small businesses, and look at the pros and cons of each. Discover how to be ready to approach funders, understand aspects of your business that can influence funding decisions and what needs to be included within a finance ready business plan.
For more information and to book your space go to:
Funding the Business in the Short Term | Business Gateway

SMAS Event
Business Breakfast, Gailes Hotel, Irvine
Thurs 27 July 2023, 8.30am-11.30am
The SMAS West Team will be hosting a series of four monthly Business Breakfasts at the Gailes Hotel, Irvine, beginning on Thursday 27 July 2023. The events start with breakfast rolls from 8.30am and a time for networking, finishing at 11.30am.

Aimed at business leaders, change managers and operations personnel, these free sessions will help you understand what SMAS can do to support your Business Ambitions for Growth, People Engagement and Operational Efficiency – they’ll be especially useful if you’re looking to introduce a culture of change within the business, and want to engage your workforce to look for opportunities to ‘do things better’.

The first session on the 27th will provide an overview of the SMAS Business Improvement Academy (BIA), ahead of the next Ayrshire BIA taking place at Spirit Aerospace Innovation Centre Prestwick from Monday 28 August to Saturday 9 October 2023. (For more information on the BIA see SMAS Business Improvement Academy)

To book your place on the Business Breakfast on 27 July, go to
Ayrshire Business Breakfast


The two events below are run by Business Gateway and take place at Ingram Enterprise Centre, 30 John Finnie St, Kilmarnock, KA1 1DD
Creating Graphics on Canva for Small Business
Thurs 13 July, 1.00pm – 3.30pm
A fantastic, practical beginner's workshop where you’ll learn how to design simple but beautiful graphics for digital, web and print using Canva the FREE simple online tool. Bring your laptop!

For more information and to book your space go to:
Creating Graphics on Canva for Small Business | Business Gateway

Quick wins on social media
Tues 25 July, 2.00pm – 4.00pm
Help your business stand out from the rest by exploring free mobile tools to engage your audience and attract new business. Topics include making graphics that pop, design hacks and free apps to make your life easier. By the end you’ll be ready to use your social platforms to their fullest potential!
For more information and to book your space go to:
Quick Wins on Social Media | Business Gateway

Ayrshire Chamber event
Connect @ Hansel Alliance
Friday 25 August 10.00am – 11.30am
Hansel Alliance, Symington KA1 5PU
Join the Ayrshire Chamber team at their monthly Connect event for a morning of networking and new connections, taking place this time in Lindy’s tearoom at Hansel Alliance. Open to non-members also.
For more information and to book your space go to:
Connect @ Hansel Alliance | Ayrshire Chamber of Commerce
To see the full range of support available from South Ayrshire Council to start or grow your business, visit our Business Support webpage.

You can also go to the Find Business Support website which provides an overview of all funding and services offered by public sector organisations across Scotland.

SAS International is a leading British manufacturer of quality metal ceilings and bespoke architectural metalwork. Installed in iconic, landmark buildings worldwide, SAS leads through innovation, cutting-edge design and technical acoustic expertise.

The company has three UK sites, alongside operations in Sydney, Paris, New York, Dubai and Dublin. Maybole is their only Scottish facility, employing 115 staff. SAS is regarded as an essential element to building a thriving community within Maybole and the wider rural area.

South Ayrshire Council’s Business Advisors have been engaging with the SAS management team at Maybole for several months, introducing them to Scotland’s wider plethora of business support, including Scottish Manufacturing Advisory Service (SMAS) who carried out an Operations Review, Skills Development Scotland who are conducting a Skills Review and Fair Work Ayrshire.

Operations Manager Scott McMillan said:

“Business Gateway opened up a whole lot of different doors for us, from funding and consultancy, to networking and training. They have supported our whole business development, including sustainability, improvement and people development. They have really helped us to become more visible locally and to get to know other businesses in the area. SAS is the biggest employer in Maybole but has never really been part of the South Ayrshire business community. All that is now changing."

“Everyone at Business Gateway has been excellent – open, full of advice and willing to support us across a whole range of areas. They always come back with plans or suggestions, or point us in the right direction for whatever we need to know. We are so grateful for the amount of time and effort that Business Gateway and their partners have been putting into SAS - it’s testament to the interest they have in local businesses and helping them to achieve success.”

SAS International is currently recruiting for office, maintenance and shop floor staff, including production operators and welders. For information on all vacancies, email Julie Renfrew –

To find out more about SAS International, visit their website or follow them on Linkedin, Facebook or Twitter
If you’ve received support from the South Ayrshire Business Gateway Team and would like to feature in a future Case Study, please email
Thanks for reading. If you have questions or feedback, please just email and one of our team will get back to you as soon as possible. See you next issue.
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