Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Members' concerns #1 - stimulating the local economy

A number of members have mentioned the local economy as their no.1 concern, and have asked me about how I'd help in bringing money and jobs to Darlington, were I to be selected as candidate.

Well, firstly I got my masters in economics and I work an adviser to small business, so it's a subject which I've got some working knowledge of. Darlington also has a high proportion of businesses in the SME sector, which is the sector I work in, helping exactly these sorts of companies.

I'd like to see:
- Mentoring for small and startup businesses to reduce failure rates (something like over 70% of new businesses fold in their first two years);
- Better access to funding for companies in their startup stage, including the encouragement of venture capital, and not just bank loans;
- In the current economic climate, it's clear that there may be an opportunity to secure infrastructure projects for the region and the Darlington area which might not otherwise happen, as the government looks to stimulate the economy at a national level through such investments. We should take advantage of such opportunities.

I'd obviously also be wanting to continue providing support for existing large development projects, such as the Oval development, which will undoubtedly bring jobs and economic growth to the area.

1 comment:

  1. Skills sharing would be a good one. I hear there's a project starting up to encourage local businesses to help voluntary organisations in Darlington improve the skills of their staff, paid and voluntary. Perhaps something like this is needed for SMEs as part of a mentoring process?

    I think there needs to be greater awareness of the different kinds of business models that exist. The cooperative model allows share capital to be raised by the enterprise without investor-capture, and this might be desirable for small businesses wishing to retain their independence while developing their operations. Given the greater accountability and social responsibility of cooperatives and mutuals, I think that these models should be held up as superior ways of doing business.

    It strikes me that employees in SMEs need trade union representation to access advice and assistance, so promoting a good working relationship between employers and union representatives can be beneficial for the small businesses, as employees that are empowered are more able to be active in dealing with problems in the workplace as they arise, which in the end means better quality goods and services.

    I am interested in the concept of local currencies being tried in some parts of the country, like Totnes, Brixton, and Stroud. Given that Darlington is a market town, a local currency, once it became accepted amongst shoppers and retailers, would be a way of localising the circulation of goods and services. If say a Darlo was equivalent to a pound, you might be given some Darlos as change from one market trader and have to spend them with another local enterprise that accepts the currency. Given how important consumer spending is to our towns economy, such a scheme might well be of great use to sustaining small businesses.

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