The South West is the most rural region in England with 34% of the population living in rural areas. The major cities are the engines of the regional economy but the rural nature of much of the region remains a dominant feature. Bristol/West of England has the largest economy in the region, employing over 500,000 people, and has a lead role as a city-region of international, national and regional significance. The other urban centres are focused around Plymouth, Exeter, Bournemouth/Poole, Swindon and Gloucester/Cheltenham. Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly are among the most rural parts of the UK, with a significant dependence on tourism, fishing and agriculture.
There is a dispersed network of towns including significant conurbations at Camborne, Pool and Redruth, St Austell and the Clay Country, and Falmouth and Penryn. Rural areas have a larger share of micro and small businesses compared to urban areas and rural businesses tend to be older than their urban counterparts. Rural businesses make an important contribution to the South West’s economy. Around 26 per cent of the region’s gross value added is attributable to the rural areas. Economic sectors of key regional importance are: advanced engineering and aerospace, food and drink, creative industries, tourism, ICT, marine, biotechnology, and environmental technologies. Environmental technologies and services, such as renewable energy, represent a huge global market where the South West can become a leader.
Education and young people – 4,500 young people in 25 schools and 5 youth services organisations in challenging circumstances will be positively supported and inspired through partnerships with business. 65% of these will be based in the most deprived communities.
Employment – 225 people a year will be proactively supported to overcome significant barriers and gain employment, and 30 businesses committed to removing barriers and actively supporting those furthest from the workplace.
Enterprise & Employee Volunteering – 20 small enterprises /social enterprises supported in the 20% most deprived areas, and 50 companies that we work with will enable their employees to volunteer in work time with 1,000 employees directly supporting BITCs programmes on education, employment and enterprise
Marketplace Sustainability – engage 300 companies to thrive through identifying how they, their products and supply chain can contribute to providing quality sustainable lifestyles