Rural Business Survey

In 2009 researchers at the Centre for Rural Economy (CRE) at Newcastle University conducted a survey of rural businesses in the North East region of England.  The survey aimed to identify changes in the characteristics of rural businesses since an earlier survey in 1999 and to explore the current issues faced by business owners in running their businesses and their future plans.

Surveys like this are critical to improving our understanding of the key changes taking place in the rural economy.  While broadly speaking rural and urban economies might be increasingly similar, pervious research has revealed important differences including a higher proportion of sole traders and microbusinesses in rural areas, the growing importance of home based working in rural economies, the value of in-migrants to rural areas in starting up new businesses and the challenges and opportunities of operating from a rural location.  This survey updates our knowledge of the rural businesses operating in one region of England and contributes to important debates on how best to support the sustainability and growth of rural businesses in future.

The survey used the 2004 urban-rural definition in order to identify rural businesses in the North East region.  Businesses in the region’s market towns were also included.  A questionnaire was posted to a random sample of 10,000 of these businesses in late January 2009, with a smaller follow-up reminder mailing in February 2009.  The questionnaire was also made available online.  An overall response rate of 9.8% was achieved (representing 957 usable responses).

The full report is available from

The key findings document is available from here

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