EU Funding for ‘Saving Rural Retail’ Project

EU Funding for ‘Saving Rural Retail’ Project

One of the main objectives of the County Sligo Local Economic and Community Plan (LECP) 2016-2021 is to develop Sligo as the economic driver of the Northwest and to promote is as an attractive location for investment, tourism, entrepreneurship and employment.

An action identified in the Plan is to develop Rural Economic Development Zones (REDZ) in key rural towns, starting with Tubbercurry as a pilot.
  

Reducing Commercial Vacancy

Sligo County Council has been approved for funding in the region of €170,000 for an EU project on rural retail under the Interreg Europe programme.  The ‘SARURE – Saving Rural Retail’ project is based around producing policy interventions aimed at supporting rural retailers, thereby reducing the level of commercial vacancy in our rural towns.  The project is focused on Tubbercurry and South Sligo, and programme includes a schedule of meetings with key stakeholders next year, including Tubbercurry Chamber of Commerce, South Sligo Tourism, Aclare Development Council and Tubbercurry Old Fair Day Committee.
  

Key Support Town

Tubbercurry has a population if around 2,000 people and is identified as a ‘key support town’ in the Sligo County Development Plan.  The commercial vacancy rate in the Tubbercurry area exceeds that in the county as a whole, having doubled since 2013, indicative of the pressures on the retail and services sector.
  

Supporting Local Retail Sector

Welcoming news of the funding, the Cathaoirleach of Sligo County Council Councillor Martin Baker said ‘Any initiative that provides badly needed support to the local retail sector is to be welcomed, and the engagement between the Council and the local community will ensure we get maximum benefit from this project.’

Councillor Jerry Lundy, a member of the Irish delegation to the EU Committee of the Regions said ‘This is an excellent initiative delivered by the European Union to help address the serious problem of depopulation of rural areas, and the people of Tubbercurry and South Sligo look forward to seeing this project progressed.’

 

 

SARURE - Save Rural Retail Project - Background

Local Shops supply the population and are a social hub, contribute to the quality of local life, encourage the population to stay and are a prerequisite for the development of other diversification activities.  Also, SMEs and micro SMEs` weight in terms of employment is very significant in demographically fragile rural areas.

However, even if retail shops are a basic service in sparsely populated areas, their existence is not inevitable.  Small villages need shops to survive but small rural shops need also a minimum number of customers to survive.

When depopulation started to affect severely some European regions, different schemes to support rural retail appeared around the year 2000.  It was the case of Rural Multiservice Shops in Aragon (Spain) but also for different attempts and formulas in many other European countries, many northern and western but not exclusively.  Even if these initiatives have undoubtedly contributed to cope with the situation in the past decade, the decline of retail in rural regions of Europe continues today.  Rural businesses face significant challenges in the marketplace leading to their unfeasibility and to dramatic consequences in terms of social and territorial cohesion.

SARURE partnership intends to exchange on the models essayed during the past decade but also on the possibilities that the new markets, the new mix of services, the new financing options and the new technologies open for retail SMEs today.  99% of the SMEs in the retail sector in partner rural areas are indeed micro SMEs especially vulnerable to crisis and with many barriers to innovation.

In this context, the final aim of the project is to improve the partner regions policies in force supporting retail SMEs towards survival, innovation and overall competitiveness.  Given the fact that today European regions from the diverse latitudes face the issue, Interreg Europe is deemed an excellent arena to exchange on successful experiences and policies.

The initiative will run until late 2022.

 

SARURE - Save Rural Retail Project - Background

Local Shops supply the population and are a social hub, contribute to the quality of local life, encourage the population to stay and are a prerequisite for the development of other diversification activities.  Also, SMEs and micro SMEs` weight in terms of employment is very significant in demographically fragile rural areas.

However, even if retail shops are a basic service in sparsely populated areas, their existence is not inevitable.  Small villages need shops to survive but small rural shops need also a minimum number of customers to survive.

When depopulation started to affect severely some European regions, different schemes to support rural retail appeared around the year 2000.  It was the case of Rural Multiservice Shops in Aragon (Spain) but also for different attempts and formulas in many other European countries, many northern and western but not exclusively.  Even if these initiatives have undoubtedly contributed to cope with the situation in the past decade, the decline of retail in rural regions of Europe continues today.  Rural businesses face significant challenges in the marketplace leading to their unfeasibility and to dramatic consequences in terms of social and territorial cohesion.

SARURE partnership intends to exchange on the models essayed during the past decade but also on the possibilities that the new markets, the new mix of services, the new financing options and the new technologies open for retail SMEs today.  99% of the SMEs in the retail sector in partner rural areas are indeed micro SMEs especially vulnerable to crisis and with many barriers to innovation.

In this context, the final aim of the project is to improve the partner regions policies in force supporting retail SMEs towards survival, innovation and overall competitiveness.  Given the fact that today European regions from the diverse latitudes face the issue, Interreg Europe is deemed an excellent arena to exchange on successful experiences and policies.

The initiative will run until late 2022.