Innovative Economic Policy for Rural Ireland June 2020
There has been an economic disparity in Rural Ireland for decades. In recent weeks the Northern and Western Regional Assembly in its recent report has confirmed a prolonged underspend in Health Education and Transport further validates the position
Some rural communities have lost local Post Offices forcing older people to travel to alternative sites. The closure of local Garda stations is a matter of concern
The struggle to maintain pupils in some National Schools has been won and lost
Depopulation is a common factor in most communities either through migration or immigration
The once influential Agri/Farm has lost much of its economic impact. Rural Ireland pays host to part-time farming, working in a conventional job and part-time farming. In the current situation there is greater margin in rearing pups than cattle. The younger generation are reluctant to engage in an activity that demands long hours, hard work and little return. The realistic outcome is that the small farming operations will cease
Some Local Authorities makes it extremely difficult to obtain planning permission
The very slow rollout of rural broadband has done nothing to enhance the situation
The way forward,
Looking Back, Present and Future
The Late Fr James McDyar still remains one of the great trailblazers of rural economic development. His colleague Mons James Horan is also a champion of a different level of local economic development. Both accepted an enormous challenge against the status quo and reluctant official support.
Covid 19 has brought a global pandemic to Ireland in 2020. Measures taken to defend and protect have impacted on nearly every strata of business.
The defence strategy by government is to provide financial measures to the business sectors in what is emerging as a near impossible task.
There is no Covid timeline for the financial costs and thus very difficult to budget. Some enterprises, especially Micros in Rural Ireland may not ever reopen. Business sustainability with cost of compliance reduced customer levels threatens most business models. The National Debt rose from €43bn in 2008 to €215bn.Financial Provision for Health and Covid compliance will bring a significant increase to national borrowings
Brexit and its impact must also be considered in the short term. Britain is expected to embrace WTO, World Trade Organization which in turn creates additional costs and tariffs.
The Covid/Brexit combination will bring considerable change to the Irish business sector. The most vulnerable is the rural Micro sector which has not witnessed any significant uptake since 2008 financial fallout.
The critical conclusion is that the Micro business supports are no longer fit for purpose. The prevailing Finance support package carries interest rates in excess of 4%.The Exchequer faces funding supports of millions
The criteria of a rural economic revival most be innovative, cost effective, operational, transparent
Re Harvard Business School/Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness/Economic Development in Rural Areas
KEY STEPS FOR BOOSTING RURAL ECONOMIES
1 Rural economic development should focus on the unique strengths of each area, rather than concentrating on ameliorating weaknesses
2 The appropriate economic unit for strategy purposes must include not only rural areas but also adjacent urban centres
3 Rural economic development should address and harness the efficient spatial distribution of economic activity rather than attempt to replicate urban economies
4 A single national rural policy is unlikely to be meaningful and successful
5 Each community should bear responsibility for its economic success, not government.
6 Federal and state government need to provide rural regions with the necessary tools and financing mechanisms to development and execute an effective strategy.
360 Degree Development
This initiative presents as a locally based Cluster/Network which can be adapted and deployed in every community in the country
Key management should include LEO, LEADER. TEAGASC and IOM Independent Operations Management
Additional agencies will be included depending on specific requirements. An effective training body will be included. Full community participation is required
360 DD will be an OPERATIONAL programme
An audit of existing support programmes is advised. Those programmes with potential will be refocussed and included
This interface will include TOSS as primary engagement
T TRAINING and TIMELINE
O OBECTIVES (Needs Analysis. This is critical dialogue with client community. This becomes part of the business plan that will become the operational platform.
S STRUCTURE. Client participation is critical and will require acceptable legal status
S STRATEGY. This depends on the extent of an agreed Business plan. 360 Degree Development offers a series of adaptable templates and provision can be made to include locally sourced projects. The business plan will identify KPIs Key Performance Indicators.
“To identify the models. or derivatives, that can be effective and quickly incorporated into the existing rural business support landscape and to do so within a reasonable time and cost parameters”
Rural Economic development supports has been traditionally fragmented and uncoordinated. The often overlooked legacy in rural Ireland is a community strength
The foundation of each programme is the identification of local economic needs and the appropriate resources to be deployed.
A critical component is a a building which becomes a tangible Growth Hub. This will become the basis for a Smart Village, Business Support and Training Centre, Remote Working site Centre for Tourism development. The by-product is to instil confidence into local communities
360 Degree Development initially offers a local development platform.
Early market led development templates are offered for Cultural tourism networked with peer groups. This segment includes the Culturally Curious, those longer stay visitors that seek history/culture in non-urban settings
It is intended that this can be monetized and be included in larger offerings like WAW and Irelands Ancient East.
Marketing is the lifeblood of every enterprise. A County Marketing Company, a full ecommerce site will be available to all participants to drive sales and increase business
A training input with second and third level institutions will provide the necessary upskilling and training. All participants will have the necessary skill sets and a robust business model to achieve success
The great unknown is the level of departmental support for the project. Long term correspondence on this matter has yield little acknowledgement or discussion
Rural Ireland has been in decline for decades. The 2008 fallout did further damage. The twin challenges of Covid and Brexit must finally prompt a more effective economic support strategy There is real danger for Rural Ireland where most areas have not recovered from the 2008 financial meltdown. Despite government PR and BS, rural Ireland faces Covid/ Brexit related survival issues. An adult evaluation will confirm that current economic supports are no longer fit for purpose. There must now be a switch in focus to embrace ECONOMIC development quickly. Banking support for rural enterprises, existing and start-ups, has stagnated.
There is no longer time for yet another spate of development reports, tribunals, and investigations. This onus is on those departments to quickly acknowledge the operational shortfalls and embrace effective and innovative remedies
The enclosed 360 Degree Development template is county based with a focus on network/cluster framework. It embraces the traditional strength of community and adds scale and impact to the Rural Micro business sector
Call to Action
The ultimate target is to put rural communities into local development and to create an economic development zone linked to peers inside and outside the county.
Covid -19 has since come into our midst and caused major social and economic upheaval.
Historical fact confirms the economic disparity in rural Ireland. The advent of Covid-19 and Brexit can bring further hardship to all strata’s in rural Ireland
Local needs must be identified, quantified and adsorbed into an effective solution process. Conventional supports are no longer viable. This should be part of an early economic revival
“This document contains information which is confidential to John Moran and all copyright and Intellectual Property Rights in this documentation and all information contained in it shall vest in John Moran”