Abstract: This paper presents the opportunities for using local action groups (LAG) as an ideal platform for the initiation of the functional and long-term development of rural regions. Countryside areas in the Czech Republic are facing an exodus of young people and a decreasing level of education. These problems are compounded by the non-conceptual approach to implementing solutions to resolve rural development issues. These problems need to be dealt with at all levels i.e. national, regional and local. The existing measures, mainly legislative and legal support, do not correspond with the importance of the issues at hand. At present, any development plans that are put forward are placed before local governments for approval. The local governments cooperate with LAGs to select those proposals that are realistic and can be supported from limited budgets. Unfortunately, development objectives that have the potential to work in larger territories often face major barriers “from above and from below”.
This paper identifies those factors that would make it feasible to use the management staff of local action groups as coordinators in the given region. With their detailed knowledge of the region they are able to assist in targeting various forms of financial support where they are most needed, as well as being able to initiate cooperation at different levels that would contribute to the actual and complex targeting of that support. The management staff of local action groups are also aware that rural development cannot only rely on a wave of subsidies. However, these resources can be used to build a strong partnership between the public, private and non-profit sectors. Prosperous rural regions are those regions in which local businesses function with the support of local governments and where the level of the local (and/or regional) education system is successfully maintained or improved and to which educated people return after their studies in larger towns. LAGs may substantially contribute to the solution of the aforementioned issues.
Authors: Petra Pártlová, Jan Hron
Keywords: local action group, LAG, rural regions, local governments, animator