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Rural Economies Must Innovate To Prosper

[Wednesday 25 January 2006]

Yorkshire Forward Chief Executive Martin Havenhand has paid tribute to the beauty of North Yorkshire whilst also reiterating the importance of diversifying rural economies.

His reminder of the need to encourage activities other than agriculture and tourism came as he, along with Timothy Kirkhope - one of the region's MEP's and local Councillor Campbell Dawson opened a new facility aimed at encouraging business start-ups in Richmondshire.

Innovate! is a £1.5m project funded by Richmondshire District Council, Yorkshire Forward and the European Union to provide state-of-the art flexible workspace for small to medium sized companies - something that the District Council admits is in short supply in the Richmondshire area.

Speaking at the facility, based on Colburn Business Park, Martin Havenhand explained how he hoped Innovate! would become "a thriving business community - a place where a young person wants to start a business; a place where people commute to work, not work elsewhere; and a place where ideas, knowledge and innovation shine for the benefit of the local community."

Innovate! Is one part of an ongoing drive to increase investment across the region and is aiming to provide companies with the facilities and support services to encourage business growth - such as office space with high-speed broadband internet access, meeting and conference facilities, and support from an on-site centre manager.

When filled to capacity the centre will be home to 16 companies and has space for 100 employees.

A proportion of the funding comes from the EU's Regional Development Fund and Mr Kirkhope highlighted the role that this money can play in developing rural economies, saying; "I am delighted to be able to highlight the important European dimension to Innovate's opening as one of the region's MEP's. The European Union is investing over £1 billion here in Yorkshire and the Humber to create and support business, to regenerate communities and to provide many jobs".

He added; "it will provide an opportunity for hi-tech businesses to expand, create local employment, and act as a catalyst for the development of the rest of Colburn Business Park".

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