Monday, 09 December 2013 11:17

Rural hubs could create more jobs

Written by  Ruralcity Media
Rural hubs could create more jobs

More rural jobs could be created by extending a network of enterprise hubs across the countryside, suggests a report.

The North East Rural Growth Network Programme is one of five DEFRA funded national pilot programmes testing ways of stimulating economic growth in rural areas.

Researchers at Newcastle University's Centre for Rural Economy set out to investigate the nature of rural enterprise hubs in the region – and how the programme can help deliver economic growth.

Enterprise hubs – shared office spaces where tenants also share business support services to save costs – could help create more rural jobs, the study concluded.

"Rural enterprise hubs have an opportunity to be more than physical business spaces," it says. "They are capable of being key nodes in the flow of knowledge within the rural economy."

A diverse range of 22 enterprise hubs in the rural north east is geographically dispersed across all parts of the region. They vary in size from 7-35 business units.

"Enterprise hubs, in common with many sectors in the economy, are experiencing some financial pressures," says the study.

"Hubs are finding it harder to let units and are therefore suffering a reduced income at a time when overheads are rising."

The study says steps should be taken to develop a north east network of rural and urban enterprise hubs, so they can share experiences and learn from each other.

Future economic development policies, for example the forthcoming NELEP Economic Growth Strategy, should be mapped on to the existing and potential hub infrastructure, it adds.

"In particular this should focus on the contribution rural areas can and do make to the key growth sectors, digital, media & creative arts as well as the more traditional heritage and tourism."

The report says opportunities for joint marketing or "sign-posting" should be investigated to generate more demand for vacant units in the existing hubs.

At the same time, options should be examined for expanding the network of enterprise hubs and strengthening the existing enterprise hubs in the north east.

The full report can be downloaded here.

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