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Over half a million residents in County Durham are being invited to join the big econ-versation on issues which matter to them most – including everything from jobs to opportunities available for our children.

People living and working in County Durham will be able to have their say on a wide range of important issues that affect their lives as part of a three-month-long consultation by Durham County Council.

Covering everything from jobs, wages, education and climate change to health, housing, transport and levelling up, the council is seeking views of people across County Durham to help shape its Inclusive Economic Strategy.

Following an extensive economic review earlier this year, Durham County Council wants to hear from residents and business people to help create a new and ambitious economic strategy for the future. 

The strategy will harness the county’s strengths, address areas for improvement and understand what people from all walks of life wish to see from their county across a range of diverse issues.

Shaped by residents and businesses, the strategy will become a comprehensive, inclusive plan for County Durham to help it achieve its growth ambitions and secure further investment and support from regional and national private and public sector organisations until 2023.

County Durham is already a major economic force in the North East, with 533,100 residents, supporting 174,000 jobs in 14,565 businesses. It contributes £9 billion to the regional economy each year. With a rich and vibrant cultural scene, Durham has been longlisted for the title of UK City of Culture 2025.

Residents and businesses can join the big econ-versation now by visiting www.durhamecon-versation.co.uk People will be able to give their views in response to questions around the themes of people, places, prosperity and planet.

Cllr Elizabeth Scott, Cabinet member for economy and partnerships at Durham County Council, said: “Our economy provides opportunities for everyone – it affects how much money people have in their pockets but also how happy and healthy they are.

“By taking part in our big econ-versation residents and businesses will help us strike the right balance between urban and rural spaces or between inward investment and tourism, with the need to protect our history, heritage and natural spaces.

“This affects everyone living and working in County Durham, so we strongly believe that people should have their say on what our economy looks like in the future. By taking part in our survey and consultation events, residents and businesses will help us to attract and secure the right investment and support we need.

“We want a County Durham that creates opportunities for everyone, makes a real difference to people’s lives and helps us grow in every way possible. “

Glyn Llewellyn, Chair of the County Durham Economic Partnership, said: “ “Businesses everywhere have and will continue to face many challenges over the next few years, from the impacts of Brexit and the pandemic to sustainability and the effects of climate change. 

“It’s imperative that businesses and organisations from across the private and public sectors in County Durham work better together to ensure a mutually beneficial successful economy for our collective long-term future.

“I would urge businesses of all shapes and sizes from across all parts of the county to get involved with our big econ-versation and have their say on a wide range of important issues – and in this way, help us to create a new and ambitious Inclusive Economic Strategy that will enable us to shape our County Durham economy into the best it can possibly be.“

Residents and businesses can find out more and have their say by visiting the Econ-versation website and completing the econ-versation online survey, or by emailing Econ-versation@durham.gov.uk or calling 03000 260000.

The deadline for views and comments is 5pm on Friday 22 April. 

More information can also be found on the Business Durham webpage https://www.businessdurham.co.uk/our-big-econ-versation/  including: 

• an Economic Statement: the review was used to develop a short Economic Statement which will help shape conversations with businesses, residents, partners, and stakeholders. 

• a draft Economic Review: this is a technical overview of the economy that sets out a range of opportunities and challenges.

A first draft of the Economic Strategy will be produced in summer 2022, and following a formal consultation process, the final document is expected to be launched in autumn 2022.

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