Enterprise award to fund Frome Cheese and Grain new skills centre
FROME'S Cheese and Grain has won a Social Enterprise Award from the Santander Bank-backed Social Enterprise Development Agency.
The £20,000 prize will be spent on further improvements to the building and to help, in particular, to develop the Skills and Enterprise Centre on the newly developed mezzanine floor.
The centre will have three training and meeting rooms and eight hot desks that can be hired by small businesses, community and voluntary groups and the self-employed.
In addition, the mezzanine will house at least 18 community education classes a week and be a base for vocational training.
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Located in the centre of Frome, there will be print facilities and cafe and plenty of parking spaces.
Julian Alexander, Santander's regional director, said: "The Cheese and Grain has demonstrated the strength of the socially owned model as a way to boost the local community and with increasing interest they have great potential to expand. We're very pleased to be able to help them realise their goals."
Cheese and Grain manager Steve MacArthur said: "The judges were impressed by our business plan and the way we were developing the Cheese and Grain from just an events-based building to a place open all day and night, seven days a week, with a cafe open all day, every day and a bar every evening.
"The Cheese and Grain becomes a place where it's worth just dropping in to see what's happening.
"They also liked the way we were diversifying into meeting local needs, creating employment and helping local small businesses."
When officials from Santander visited the Cheese and Grain they were especially interested in the solar panels and the mutually beneficial deal struck with Frome Town Council.
The Cheese and Grain gets free daytime electricity and the town council makes almost £200,000 profit over the lifetime of the panels.
They were equally impressed by the way Frome Town Council creatively transformed a general subsidy to prop up the Cheese and Grain into an investment, which they described as ingenious.
Mendip District Council is also supporting the Cheese and Grain Skills and Enterprise Centre with a grant of £15,000 from the Mendip Homes Bonus Local Legacy Fund.
The grant is in recognition of the potential support the hub can give local enterprise, training and job creation.