Rural growth is in danger of being overlooked by funding mechanisms better suited to urban areas, a Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has warned.
The York, North Yorkshire & East Riding LEP welcomed the news that three sites in their region will benefit from major investment from the Regional Growth Fund. However, the LEP warned that smaller, rural enterprises are at risk, adding that Government needs to recognise the LEP is capable of making good decisions locally, and back it with appropriate resources to invest.
Barry Dodd, LEP Chair, said:
Our region comprises of an army of small and micro businesses. They have been resilient through the challenging economic climate and are ambitious for the future. The best way to grow our local economy is by making sure we’re listening to them and giving them the support they need. Yes there will be large investments from time to time, but helping these innovative small businesses grow remains our priority.
The three investments in the LEP area from the Regional Growth Fund are in a Centre of Excellence in Geoscience near Scarborough, the renewable energy industry across Hull and the East Riding, and an automotive parts manufacturer in Knaresborough.
Mr Dodd said these provide a much needed boost to the region, however complimenting these projects with investment to stimulate rural growth is essential:
The best way of achieving this is for central government to work with LEPs to develop local solutions. We are working closely with DEFRA and the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) to make this happen. We are proving that devolving responsibility to a local level is working and I hope and expect that Government will give us the resources to stimulate growth locally, to take advantage of this.
The Local Enterprise Partnership has thrived on having to innovate and develop solutions with little or no resources. This has allowed the LEP to focus on the priority issues and to develop resilient and sustainable approaches through partnerships with the private sector. However, it believes now is the time to back this up with investment to remove some of the barriers stopping rural businesses growing and creating jobs.
In its first year the focus of the York, North Yorkshire and East Riding Local Enterprise Partnership is purely on business growth: helping small businesses access finance, be better networked, secure skilled staff and take advantage of the world class broadband roll-out.