Strengthening the local rural economy: promoting the sustainability of rural business in Bedfordshire

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dc.contributor.advisor Neame, Charles Reeves, A. J. 2023-05-25T13:50:54Z 2023-05-25T13:50:54Z 2002-09-25
dc.description.abstract This research was undertaken for Bedfordshire County Council to investigate appropriate mechanisms for the promotion of sustainable rural business in Bedfordshire. The research seeks to provide insights into the future requirements of small rural businesses in Bedfordshire and to build upon the support that Bedfordshire County Council currently provides to ‘local producers’ through the ‘Made in Beds Directory’. A user-friendly postal questionnaire was targeted to businesses in Bedfordshire with a rural postcode, with 25 or fewer employees and regardless of their business activity. The survey covered: the strengths and weaknesses of the businesses; the perceived importance of those strengths and weaknesses; the barriers to improving business performance; and appropriate support provisions to enhance business performance. These were previously identified in the literature and policy review, corroborated and augmented in a pilot study. The results were varied, illustrating the highly individual nature of the businesses and their perceived requirements. The businesses identified their strengths as: technical expertise; financial management; ability to innovate; compliance with legislation and the location of the business and weaknesses were identified as: marketing and promotional ability; training provision; I.T.; product development and logistics. The perceived barriers to improved business performance identified and future support provision requirements, resulted in the provision of valid insights into the rural businesses. The wide scope of the research meant that despite not fully achieving the objectives, it provided useful insights enabling a series of informed conclusions. The principle recommendations were: • Support should be directed at the agricultural sector; • Support should address the principal areas of weaknesses: marketing and promotional activities; training provision; I.T.; product development. • Support is directed at overcoming the perceived barriers to improving business performance, namely: lack of management time; lack of staff skills; lack of marketing and promotional ability; access to finance; coping with competitors. Further exploratory research should be carried out into: methods for developing the strengths of rural companies and providing strategies for sustainable competitive advantage for the businesses; the types of staff training which rural businesses would participate in to enhance staff skills; Increased promotion and signposting to free local business resources available; Promotion of the benefits of addressing environmental issues in the business decision-making and the provision of free or subsidised membership of the Bedfordshire Green Business Network to businesses with rural Bedfordshire postcodes; BCC to establish a panel of businesses for the purpose of implementing the recommendations on an experimental basis. Over a period of time the panel would provide useful additional data and experiences, which could inform future support strategies for sustainable rural businesses. The use of a pilot panel would allow for the appropriateness of support measures to be assessed prior to implementation thus reducing the risk of inappropriate use of public funding and adverse public opinion. en_UK
dc.language.iso en en_UK
dc.rights © Cranfield University, 2015. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.
dc.title Strengthening the local rural economy: promoting the sustainability of rural business in Bedfordshire en_UK
dc.type Thesis en_UK
dc.description.coursename MSc by Research en_UK

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