SUPPORTING entrepreneurs and retaining graduates will play a key part in plans to help Ashfield’s economy thrive in years to come, Ashfield District Council leader John Knight has revealed.
Coun Knight made the pledge as he outlined his economic priorities for the district during an exclusive interview with Chad.
The determined leader also vowed to provide more support to jobseekers aged 18 to 24 years-old as the council looks to get to grips with Ashfield’s growing youth unemployment problem.
Said Coun Knight: “We are not going to change the country’s economy, but we are looking to make a difference for Ashfield.
“Historically we are a deprived area, which was reliant on the pits and factories.
“Jobs and employment in this area has changed. We do not need mills and factories any more to attract jobs.
“We have a lot of blue collar jobs, but we need more ‘inspirational’ jobs in the district.”
As part of that drive to attract more higher paid jobs to Ashfield a number of initiatives have been set up, including the Supported Graduation in Enterprise programme and the Woman Who Do scheme.
Both projects aim to help small businesses and entrepreneurs, especially females, thrive through a range of means, including the creation of business incubation units, improved business advice and support organisations.
The economic regeneration initiativ also focuses on the retention of graduates to stem the tide of wages and key workers leaving the Ashfield following the completion of their studies.
“Once someone has graduated we need to make sure they stay in this area,” added Coun Knight.
“There is no reason for people to graduate here and then move to Nottingham and places like that. If we can compete with these places then people will stay.
“This is a long term project. People like to live where they work. Housing in Ashfield is cheaper than other nearby district.
“We need to put infrastructure in place to get people to stay here such as houses and schools, which will help graduates settle here for many years.”
Council Knight added that the current mindset surrounding entrepreneurs also needed to change to allow budding business people in Ashfield to flourish.
“Most business start small before growing in size and it is important we give entrepreneurs the chance to develop.
“It is about having imagination above anything else. I don’t think we do enough as a nation, never mind as a district, to help entrepreneurs.
“It seems that it has only recently become fashionable to be an entrepreneur.
“We need to do more to harnass that spirit. We need a few Alan Sugar types in this area.”