Ru­ral en­ter­prise is fo­cus of event

Perthshire Advertiser - - LETTERS TO THE EDITOR -

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.”

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