Early on in this LEADER Programme – as in way back in 2015 – I was asked about our area and our people, our strengths, weaknesses, our hopes for 2020.
Strengths of our LEADER area is obvious; we are motivated, we know what it’s like to live in a remote rural area, we know you cannot eat the world class landscape and that our communities are everything, the glue which holds us together. We are entrepreneurial; we have strong business networks, lots of independent businesses. We are inspiring above all, we have brand value, unique heritage assets, and distinctive market towns. We are the Yorkshire Dales!
However, our weaknesses are the same as those in most rural areas. We are wasteful and short-sighted in planning how our resources and communities are used; our young people grow up in a high quality environment and we put little planning into providing for their future; where they will live, where they will work, where they will send their families to school, how they will get to school.
LEADER would never have been the answer to these weaknesses, however as a bottom up funding approach, it has boosted our strengths. We have made a difference to the Yorkshire Dales communities during this Programme and added value on top of the impacts of it’s predecessor (ended in 2013).
In the last LEADER Programme (2007-2013) we gave out £2.7 million in grants over a 5 year period, creating 25.9 full time equivalent jobs and drawing in an additional £1.4 million in additional investment. This Programme we had less to give, however still secured nearly £2.5 million, drew down an additional £7 million (and counting) investment in “match” into our area, creating over 63 full time equivalent jobs (still being evidenced). We are facing the future stronger than we were.
We are truly motivated, entrepreneurial, and inspiring!
We are the Yorkshire Dales!