• Devon Delivers

New opportunity for rural micro businesses to voice their opinions & design support programmes

Kindly contributed by Devon County Council

Devon County Council is launching a research project which aims to engage with rural businesses and sole traders to find out what might be preventing them from boosting their productivity and how we can help.

The ‘Engaging Rural Micros’ project will initially look to engage with over 100 micro businesses, targeting the Mid Devon and North Devon area through short surveys, detailed conversations, focus groups and other research.

Micro businesses* make up 90 percent of the rural economy in Devon, which makes their continued development essential to the future of the County’s economy.

The Engaging Rural Micros research is calling for micro businesses in four less productive sectors to share their experiences. These sectors are health and social care; manufacturing; trades (e.g. construction, market traders, lifestyle businesses); and tourism (including accommodation, food and retail).

The aim of the initiative will be to find out more about the needs of these businesses and how to make it easier for them to access and engage with business support programmes in Devon. If you are a micro business or sole trader in any of these four sectors (outlined above), the project team would love to hear from you. Tell us your needs, what you think of the current support on offer, and help ensure future support programmes are right for your business.

There are lots of ways that you can get involved, ranging from a two minute questionnaire, to a whole day discussing your needs and helping to design a support programme that’s right for you.

The findings of this project will be used to inform the design of a new trial to help prepare businesses to embrace development opportunities. The trial could enable them to confidently take advantage of mainstream business support and use their time and resources more effectively to increase profitability and productivity. Businesses taking part in the research will have the opportunity to express an interest in taking part in the business support trial.

Councillor Rufus Gilbert, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Economy, Enterprise and Skills, said: “This is an excellent opportunity to learn first-hand what the barriers to rural economic growth really are, and a stepping stone towards better engagement with micro businesses. This provides them with a platform to make their voices heard and tell us about their needs. Micro businesses underpin our local economy, so encouraging the four target sectors to embrace innovation and modern business practises will have a much wider impact, stimulating productivity across our economy.”

Rural micro businesses and sole traders in Mid Devon and North Devon in the sectors of health and social care; manufacturing; trades; and tourism, can have their say by contacting the Engaging Rural Micros project team.

If you would like to take part in this research or find out more:

– Email: Rio.Bayley@devon.gov.uk about taking part in surveys, business case studies, and focus groups.

– Call 01392 380753 to find out more, chat to the team, or take part in a quick survey-style telephone conversation.

– Follow @RuralMicros on Twitter to stay up to date with our whereabouts each week as we visit local market towns, industrial parks and business hotspots near you.

– Like: fb.com/RuralMicros

– Or visit https://new.devon.gov.uk/economy/business-support/engaging-rural-micros

(*Micro businesses are businesses with fewer than 10 employees).

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Thanks to Devon Wildlife Trust, Exeter City Council, Exeter Science Park, Kor Communications, The Met Office and case study brands for photo permissions.