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A lthough the economy is growing, some local economies are still in bad shape. To revitalize them, the government is pushing a project to strengthen small and medium enterprises. The project will focus on helping enterprises that use local resources to develop new products and services to market worldwide.

A bill to implement the project is in the Diet. It is hoped that the bill will not only bring about tangible effects in producing new products and services, but also demonstrate the high technological level and competitiveness of small and medium enterprises

Under the project, prefectural governments can apply to the central government to designate specific agricultural, fishery, industrial and mining products, and tourist resources as “special local resources.” The government will then approve plans worked out by small and medium enterprises or their associations to turn those resources into competitive products and services.

The central government assistance will not only be financial, but include aid in products and services development, market surveys and marketing. Support offices will be established in 10 places across the nation and experts will be dispatched to help enterprises and associations.

The project is based on the idea that small and medium enterprises are not necessarily weak enterprises. Rapid technological innovation and diversification of demand have helped some small and medium enterprises develop products and services that differ from those of competitors abroad. Their strength lies in the fact that their size enables them to flexibly cope with the development and commercialization of new products and services.

The Small and Medium Enterprise Agency plans to create 1,000 specific plans for new products and services within five years. The goal is to use these plans, not public works, as a leading force in revitalizing local economies.

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