Rural enterprise is focus of event
A call has been made to support small businesses so rural areas can flourish.
The CEO of Blairgowrie-based enterprise support organisation Growbiz told delegates at an international conference on rural development there needs to be a change in the way enterprise in more isolated locations is perceived and supported.
Jackie Brierton was speaking at the OECD rural development conference in Edinburgh last week.
The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, based in Paris, aims to improve the economic and social wellbeing of people around the world.
The conference looked at a range of issues around how to enhance rural innovation, with workshops on enhancing prosperity, building resilient and sustainable communities and getting rural policies and governance right.
There were also sessions on trends and drivers for rural change, creating jobs and economic opportunity through innovation, including promoting entrepreneurship.
Ms Brierton was keen to stress the importance of rethinking how policy makers look at supporting rural enterprise.
She said:“We need to change the way we think about the rural economy.
“Economic policy has not tended to differentiate between rural and urban businesses but we need to recognise that economic growth in rural areas is coming predominantly from small and micro businesses and we should be focusing more of our support on them if we want to continue the GVA growth we’ve seen in Scotland’s rural areas in recent years.
“The old model of macro-economic policy supporting high growth and scale-up business no longer fits what is actually happening in rural areas, where digital technology is allowing even the smallest of businesses to access international markets. Innovation comes in many forms in rural areas, with the specific challenges facing rural enterprises often leading to new ideas and creative solutions. Growbiz itself is an example of this.”