Much work on the economy is taking place, such as engaging with businesses and working with business organisations such as the Federation of Small Businesses and Chambers of Commerce.
Our approach as a council has significantly changed. In the past we may have produced an overarching strategy. Now we have looked in detail at what is in the county – strengths and weaknesses you might say, which we can build on and develop through our five Bold Ideas plan, which will help to build the Gross Value Added in the county to be on a par with other adjoining counties.
We have a beautiful county and the South Downs is a very special landscape, much loved by residents. It is a great place to cycle and walk, but interestingly not widely known by many of the younger generation (I mean 25 to 40-year-olds) living in London, surprising really as it is just on the doorstep.
Our Beautiful Outdoors campaign is all about encouraging this younger generation to enjoy the delights of rural West Sussex, particularly by cycling, and it is really good to have the support and commitment of the South Downs National Park who are working closely with us.
Some might ask why we are bothering with this project. Well, I think it is important as this will directly help our rural economy, and that’s not just the hospitality industry but food producers and other supporting businesses. It will also encourage the next generation, currently not resident here, to sample all that is great in West Sussex and we hope may tempt them to move into the county as well.
We know to have a really great offering we need to invest in some of our cycle ways and footpaths, which is why earlier this year we put a bid into the Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership. Last Wednesday we were awarded £1.2 million – of which £450,000 goes towards those cycle and footpath improvements, which in the end will benefits residents and visitors alike.
Such campaigns need to be marketed carefully and of course be supported by local businesses. This is why we held an event for local businesses and partners last week to brief them. It was really well attended by many people who were keen to learn about our Beautiful Outdoors campaign with lots of positive comments and support.
So this is just the start –and through the blog I will keep you posted..