Get involved! Send your photos, video, news & views by texting HL NEWS to 80360 or e-mail us
'Social enterprises can kick-start economy' says Black Country LEP
9:20am Friday 22nd June 2012 in Business Daily
SOCIAL enterprises can provide a key to kick-starting the economy and increasing employment opportunities, according to Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).
The LEP has unveiled its intention to launch Social Enterprise Zones as an innovative way of supporting growth and creating jobs.
The Black Country LEP board has set the wheels in motion for a sub-group focussed purely on social enterprise to be created. Chaired by new LEP board member Dr Chris Handy, the sub-group will set out its vision for social enterprise zones to be created in the Black Country.
Following the creation of the Government’s enterprise zones for business, the Black Country LEP is looking to create zones where social enterprises have a platform to flourish.
St Matthew’s Youth Quarter in Walsall and The Third Place in Halesowen have already been earmarked as two social enterprise zones that can anchor the concept.
The Walsall zone would be based around the existing work of the Vine Trust, which already provides a range of successful social enterprise initiatives.
The zone would be located on brownfield land in St Matthew’s Youth Quarter and would feature a social innovation research facility and high quality office space that meets the need of businesses which can demonstrate social, economic or environmental benefits to the Black Country.
Meanwhile, The Third Place is a proposed zone in Halesowen town centre, building on the work of the Zion Christian Centre. The proposal would see the creation of community and auditorium spaces as well as sports and leisure facilities.
The zone would look to create a variety of places for people to meet, innovate and share ideas.
Dr Handy said: “The Black Country really is taking the national lead on social enterprise. We recognise that social enterprises can play a key role in boosting the economy, encouraging entrepreneurialism and creating jobs.
“The concept of Social Enterprise Zones is still in its infancy but the projects in Walsall and Halesowen are moving forward and could give us the cornerstone to develop a wider, joined-up concept.”
Kevin Davis, chief executive of The Vine Trust, said: “The sites in Walsall and Halesowen in Dudley borough are ready made to become social enterprise zones but we also have sites in Wolverhampton and Sandwell which, we believe, can also become zones to ensure the offer is there for the whole of the Black Country region.
“Through the LEP and its private and public sector links, we believe we can progress this idea swiftly and see results in the very near future.”
People interested in developing social enterprise zones in the Black Country should contact Mr Davis on 01922 621951.