Report shows the hidden potential of Scotland’s rural businesses

Report shows the hidden potential of Scotland’s rural businesses

Scottish rural businesses who go digital could add £2.5bn to Scotland’s economy, according to a new report.

A new report commissioned by Amazon shows Scottish rural businesses could add between £1.2bn and £2.5bn annually in GVA to Scotland’s rural economy and at least £1.44bn to rural business turnover by going digital.

“Over the past 20 years, we’ve seen opportunities for rural entrepreneurs transformed through e-commerce, better delivery services and growing access to fast broadband. But as today’s report shows, there’s much further to go before anyone can say the rural-urban divide has closed,” said Doug Gurr, UK country manager at Amazon.

“Embracing digital technology not only benefits the economy; it also allows rural communities to combine great quality of life with access to global opportunities. We are working to play our part in helping achieve the report’s ambitions through programmes such as Amazon Academy events and webinars, where last year we helped hundreds of rural businesses learn how to go digital.”

Greater adoption of digital tools and services by Scotland’s rural businesses could add £1.2-£2.5bn to Gross Value Added (GVA) in addition to the just over £30bn GVA which Scotland’s rural economy already contributes in the UK.

The report also found that the South West, Eastern and South East regions of England, which have the largest share of rural businesses in the UK, are set to benefit the most from greater digital adoption. Scotland accounts for 9.6% of all rural businesses in the UK.

Dr Jane Atterton of the Rural Policy Centre at SRUC, which helped Amazon publish the report, said: “Rural Scotland is home to a significant number of businesses operating across all economic sectors. For the vast majority of these businesses, access to reliable, quick broadband is crucial for sustainability and growth.

“But it’s not just about the infrastructure, we also need to ensure that the right kinds of support are in place to enable rural businesses to make the most of it, whether that’s through easy-to-access, appropriately tailored business support, information and training, or through businesses themselves collaborating and mentoring one another.

“With the right kinds of support, our report suggests that there could be a substantial economic boost, not to mention the positive impact on the sustainability of communities including the most remote rural areas.”

The cabinet secretary for the rural economy and connectivity, Fergus Ewing MSP, said:
“This report reinforces the importance of fully realising our digital potential for rural Scotland.

“I am particularly interested in the growth opportunities predicted for the many micro enterprises that are found often in remote locations that are successfully supporting their local economy and in turn an inclusive rural economy for Scotland. Progress will best be delivered through partnership working with all rural businesses, public sector service providers, commercial interests and communities themselves.

“I very much welcome the interest and information in this report and look forward to seeing early progress to ensure the predictions for our Rural Economy become a successful reality.”