Rural Economy

Rural Economy

Business Support

Community First Oxfordshire has unrivalled connectivity with rural communities and therefore can act as a connector to link entrepreneurs, homeworkers, micro businesses and rural SMEs to local support networks and sources of specialist business support .

Local Support Networks

This would involve promoting and helping to set up local business networks for homeworkers and micro businesses. These can have a number of benefits: providing peer to peer support, development of mutual trading, increasing trader know- how and confidence, and provision of information for the Local Economic Partnership on demand for specialist advice and business support.

Specialist business support

Linking with specialist business support organisations, we can identify need, mobilise interest and enable specialist business support to be made available to rural micro-businesses and SMEs on retail, low carbon, digital, and engineering businesses. In taking this work forward, we would also want to draw on the experience of the Rural Growth Network pilots. These pilots have created a more cohesive, streamlined offer of rural business support with a ‘co-ordinated front door’ for customers.

This could include setting up incubation hubs for rural businesses and creating local innovation networks focussing on technology, innovation and competitiveness. Our role would be in helping to set up and sustain the hubs and ensuring timely engagement of specialist advisers.

Social inclusion

Community First Oxfordshire can help make contact with those individuals furthest from the labour market to enable them to connect with opportunities. This could involve: 

  • Mapping social disadvantage (MOSAIC data set / Oxfordshire Insight Observatory)
  • Identifying areas where there are rural concentrations of (a) young people who are NEET, or low skilled or struggling to access sustainable employment and (b) adults who are low skilled and/or workless
  • Working with partners to develop practical strategies in response to the above
  • Consider developing a project in 3 disadvantaged areas that aims to raise skills levels, connect residents with economic opportunity and support them into sustainable jobs
  • Consider refreshing Rural Inclusion Group: agree focus and objectives

 

Working with our partners, Community First Oxfordshire can ensure rural Oxfordshire is fully included in the vision of innovation-led growth for the county.

For a discussion, please contact Tom McCulloch

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