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Online CPD: Understanding and Supporting Business (Lorna Young)

Over the last 15 years Lorna Young’s consultancy business, based in Dumfries, has transitioned from a focus on marketing to increasingly working in the field of rural economic development and business support. Lorna holds a postgraduate certificate in Sustainable Rural Development from the University of the Highlands and Islands and recently concluded a two-year board membership of South of Scotland Economic Partnership, the precursor to the new South of Scotland Enterprise agency, where she had responsibility for the development of business support recommendations.

Lorna has a particular interest in owner-managed businesses, an interest informed by the accidental entrepreneurship of her family’s business in domiciliary care, where she led on the transition to employee ownership in 2004. She now champions the importance of small businesses in building community cohesion and resilience in rural economies, and her client base includes purpose-driven businesses and collaborative sector-based groups in food and drink, tourism and renewables.

In June 2020 Lorna attended the IED’s online CPD programme, Understanding and Supporting Business, which ran over three days. The course explored the key concepts and practicalities of the competencies needed to enable effective business support. It looked at the challenges economic development professionals are going to have to reach and support business in order to stimulate local recovery, including small businesses – the lifeblood of local economies – which can be especially hard to engage.

“The provision of training online meant that this course was accessible to me in a way that a full day in-person workshop would not have been, given my location and my parenting responsibilities,” Lorna said. “The course aligned very closely with my professional experience of delivering business support, and I was pleased to see it emphasised the importance of marketing and communications in supporting meaningful business engagement. The CPD was comprehensive, the format was highly accessible, and the opportunity to ask questions and interact with the tutor was, I felt, enhanced rather than diminished by the online delivery.”

The programme was led by IED Chair Bev Hurley, one of the UK’s leading experts on business support and wealth creation: “The exploration of innovation in the final session was particularly valuable,” Lorna explained. “I found the discussion of different types of innovation very useful, and I have already put that knowledge to use in helping a client navigate an innovation funding application. Supporting innovation and resilience in businesses is particularly important as we look to the post-Covid economy, and ensuring that business support interventions and activities are targeted and appropriate to business capacity is timely. The CPD was well worth the investment in adding depth and new perspective to this important topic.”