Better for business in rural Glendale or Westerveld?

A researcher from the Netherlands is spending time in north Northumberland, comparing the region with a rural area back home in Holland.

Heike Delfmann is researching entrepreneurship in areas that are changing demographically, such as the ageing society and the declining workforce in the North East.

Working as a researcher at the University of Groningen, she is comparing Glendale to a Dutch rural region called Westerveld.

People have various reasons for becoming an entrepreneur, such as a need for independency or a financial motivation. But what motivates people to start a business in such a remote rural area which is also facing those demographic changes?

In Glendale, the wish for a certain lifestyle seems to be the ultimate motivation for start-ups.

Talking to local entrepreneurs reveals that the potential negative effects of ageing, workforce decline and a relative isolated location are not viewed as a threat.

Focusing on two rural case studies, Heike also aims to determine the impact of the type of rurality on start-up behaviour.

“Rural regions in the Netherlands are always relatively close to an urban centre in geographical terms,” she said.

“Also, infrastructure covers the more peripheral regions, providing them a fairly easy link to the urban centres.

“In England, you have more ‘traditional’ rural regions.

“Probably, from your perspective, we don’t even have a proper countryside.”

By comparing the two regions, she hopes to determine whether the link to urban centres impacts the decision making process or start-up motivation.

The project will be continued in the coming months, with discussions taking place at the Cheviot Centre in Wooler this month and again in September. Anyone who would like to help is asked to sign up at the Cheviot Centre.