Mike Wharton

Mike started working life as an Engineer first in Heavy Electrical then Aerospace and finally in Industrial heating.

In his 30s he changed the course of his career by applying for a job as a Small Industries Organiser with the Council For Small Industries in Rural Areas. He was offered a post in Cornwall and the opportunity to pioneer the Development Commissions rural workshop programme and co-ordinate advice and finance for small businesses. Some of those embrio businesses, such as Ginsters and Gul Wet Suits have become household names.

In the early 80s he decided that Margaret Thatcher was going to cut funding for agencies like CoSIRA so he left Cornwall and joined Devon County Council as their Industrial Development Officer. This opened up new opportunities including promoting Inward Investment, establishing a venture capital fund and an EU funded network of advice for Devon businesses. In the 90s he was appointed to the post of Senior Economic Development Officer and, with the prospect of the County Council becoming a much more rural authority when both Plymouth and Torbay were granted unitary status, he changed the focus of the departments work. Funds and personnel were switched to deliver enhanced socio-economic programmes including South West Forest, a village shops development scheme, and Devon became the first local authority to advertise investment opportunities on Classic FM. 

In 2001 Mike decided to leave the County Council to do different things including a long term ambition to travel on and write about the inland waterways of Europe.

On the voluntary side he has been an advisor to the board of Taste of the West, Chairman and management committee member of Teign Valley Community Hall, a Governor of the local Primary school, in at the ground floor of DACB, a steering group member of the Community Facilities Fund and Business Growth Funds of GD LEAF and Chair of DCDs' Community Grants Committee.

He has a BSc in Commercial Administration with Engineering and a Post Graduate Diploma in Rural Economic Development.