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Rural business and economic development champion takes up position on IED Board


A Dumfries-based marketing and rural economic development consultant with a passion for purpose-driven business and community-led development has been appointed to the Board of the Institute of Economic Development (IED).

Lorna Young, who has been a member of the IED since 2017, is an expert in the south of Scotland economy including its communities, businesses and key sectors. With a professional background in strategic communications, over the past decade Lorna has used marketing-led approaches to amplify the impact of rural economic development activity; tackling a range of projects, from individual business support to community-led tourism to food and drink sector strategic development.  

“I’m delighted to join the IED Board at a time when economic development has arguably never been more important or more visible, and I’m looking forward to bringing a south of Scotland and a rural perspective to the broader economic development discussion,” Lorna said. “My interest in supporting rural businesses has its roots in my own family’s experience of entrepreneurship, growth and exit through employee ownership. I saw first-hand the complex challenges that small business owners face, in particular the emotional pressures that can arise, and I understand how transformative effective and targeted business support can be.

“We’ve seen that most clearly in the past couple of years with the impact of Covid-19 on small and micro business owners, and that was particularly acute in rural communities. Certainly during the first lockdown, it was small businesses that faced the brunt of the economic shutdown, and in rural communities it was also small businesses that people turned to for support and essential supplies. That recent experience has fuelled my interest in championing the important role small businesses play in supporting resilience and community-building.”

Lorna was formerly a board member of South of Scotland Economic Partnership (SoSEP) which was established to respond to the economic needs and opportunities of the south of Scotland in advance of the new South of Scotland Enterprise agency. During the term of the partnership she drew on 15 years’ independent consultancy experience to help inform a new approach to business support across the south. “It was a privilege to be asked to join the SoSEP board and to directly help shape a new economic development agency designed very specifically around the needs of the area,” she explained. “The south has some big economic challenges but it is also an area that’s ripe with potential, so the opportunity to design future service delivery around those place-specific needs was both exciting and important.”

With an “unrelenting optimism in the potential of business as force for good”, Lorna currently works with community groups, independent businesses and membership organisations on a project basis, often using place branding and marketing to support confidence and capacity building. She joined the IED four years ago when studying for a postgraduate certificate in Sustainable Rural Development at the University of the Highlands and Islands, and has subsequently found considerable value in the IED’s CPD programme. “I find the broad perspective the IED offers valuable insight, particularly in the context of UK government policy, and in understanding opportunities for clients located in other devolved nations,” she added.

Looking ahead to her role as an IED Director, Lorna insisted the “time is now” for economic development professionals. “The profession has never been more important and there is an opportunity to make sure the IED is leveraging the practical and operational experience of economic development professionals across the UK to help inform sound policy making,” she said. “The work that has been done recently on Levelling Up: pre-White Paper perspectives from economic development professionals is a really good example of that; capturing insight from a breadth of experiences, and extrapolating commonalities to identify recommendations.

“From climate change to Brexit to Covid; the economic and societal impacts of these converging waves of change is considerable. The membership of the IED is exceptionally well placed to use its collective wealth of experience in the practical application of economic development principles to help inform effective policy making that meaningfully delivers against emerging need.”


Contact: Phil Smith, Institute of Economic Development PR consultant, on 01778 218180 / 07866 436159 /

The Institute of Economic Development (IED) is the UK’s leading independent professional body representing economic development and regeneration practitioners. Established nearly 40 years ago, the IED's key objective is to represent the interests of economic development practitioners and ensure their views are widely expressed and noted. The IED is committed to demonstrating the value of economic development work for local and regional communities; the pursuit of best practice in economic development and the attainment of the highest standards of professional conduct and competence.