Headlines: June 30th, 2009

Representatives of local authorities will join business leaders, members of community organisations and staff from economic development agencies from around the country today to look at how inspiration and leadership can help rural economies to fulfil their potential.

Delegates to the summit, which is taking place in Aylesbury, will also hear from the Rural Affairs Minister, Dan Norris. It has been organised by the Commission for Rural Communities and the East and South East of England Development Agencies and is the second in a series of meetings following a report to the Government last year by Dr Stuart Burgess, the Chairman of the CRC.

Dr Burgess pointed to the need for steps to be taken to raise the profile of rural economies through rural champions and by encouraging the creation of strong networks to support improvement and efficiency for rural and sub-regional authorities on local economic development. There are estimated to be around a million rural businesses in England employing more than 5 million people and with a combined annual turnover of more than 300 billion pounds.

Looking ahead to today’s meeting Dr Burgess said: Today’s summit is about how we can work together to raise the profile and aspirations of rural businesses. Inspiration and leadership in our rural economies is even more important at this time, to help lift us out of recession which has taken a strong hold in rural areas.”

Mr. Norris said the Government would continue to support rural businesses and communities through the economic recession and added: “Lots of rural businesses have real success stories to tell. They are innovative and committed, and contribute hugely to the national economy.”