Individuals, businesses, groups and organizations are all invited to help finalize how to get the most out of Staffordshire’s rural economy over the next decade.
Two of the key areas include Leek and Cheadle in Staffordshire.
After preliminary work with a wide range of bodies, Staffordshire County Council is releasing the draft Rural Economic Strategy for final comment.
The focus is on developing townships, improving rural infrastructure and encouraging innovation and sustainable growth.
Philip White, Deputy Leader of Staffordshire County Council and Cabinet Member for Economy and Skills, said: ‘There is already an economic strategy for the whole of the county, which has a focus on urban areas, so this part is specifically about how we deliver benefits to rural communities.
“Staffordshire’s continued economic growth relies in part on ensuring that there is a collective plan for these towns and villages and that the diversity of businesses within them are able to make the most of funding and investment opportunities. as they arise.
“After consulting with businesses, groups and organisations, and local councils, we believe this plan is in good shape, but it is not set in stone and we still want people to contribute to the version final.”
The five key areas are:
- Support the regeneration of Cheadle, Leek, Rugeley, Stone and Uttoxeter as places to live and invest;
- Reviving and developing the visitor economy by supporting tourism businesses and quality accommodation;
- Support sustainable intensification of agriculture, including diversification, carbon reduction and succession planning for the next generation;
- Stimulate enterprise and innovation;
- Improve rural digital connectivity and access to opportunities through improved digital and energy infrastructure, as well as low-carbon transport.
With around 80% of Staffordshire classed as rural, this area is responsible for over half of the county’s economic output.
Mr White added: ‘Staffordshire’s rural economy strikes a good balance between traditional land-based industries such as agriculture and forestry, as well as sectors such as manufacturing, construction, services, food production and tourism.
“This strength is underpinned by excellent traditional and specialist universities and colleges and there is a skilled and well-educated workforce ready to go.
“The challenge is to agree on a clear path forward so that we can follow a common plan in the years to come to remove the barriers preventing further progress.”
People can have their say on the rural strategy by visiting: https://preview-staffscc.cloud.contensis.com/Business/Economic-and-Rural-Economic-Strategies/Rural-Economic-Strategy.aspx
The website also contains links to consultations on Staffordshire’s wider economic strategy, which focuses on economic growth priorities for the county as a whole.