E-Centres call for social enterprises

A recent policy document by Forfás states that the
Action Plan for Jobs recognises that all parts of society and community can
share in and contribute to, economic renewal and recovery. In particular,
the action plan notes that there is a strong social enterprise base in
Ireland, which could be further examined with a view to determining its
potential for job creation.

The document details social enterprises that were identified including
community retail and care services, tourism and heritage products; leisure
and sports services and energy production. Another example of social
enterprises which are now coming to the fore are community-run enterprise
centres aimed at bringing businesses together in a town or village, from
start-up’s to established companies and those working remotely (say from a
multi-national). Cork County Council’s E Centres initiative provides
funding for centres in local communities, towns and villages so that
entrepreneurs can work from their own locality.

Social enterprises are business models which are set up to tackle social,
economic or environmental issues and while they are driven primarily by
social and/or environmental motives, they engage in trading or commercial
activities to pursue these objectives and produce social and community gain.
The weekly rental rates ensures that businesses and individuals don’t have
to tie themselves in long term leases, and allows much more flexibility in
terms of day to day operations.

The E Centres are currently set up in Macroom, Bantry, Millstreet,
Charleville and Fermoy with three more in planning for other towns. In
these centres, a business can avail of a hot desk, shared services along
with the contacts both in the community organisation and the wider state
supports available.

Ger Power, Head of Finance and Economic Development at Cork County Council
states that “the E Centres are an initiative of Cork County Council that
demonstrates our commitment to the economic development of the region, and
supporting enterprise and community through the Economic Development Fund.
Supporting business and start-ups is crucial to progressing the region
further economically.”

Interestingly, the European Commission has placed the social economy and
social innovation at the heart of its concerns under the Europe 2020
strategy. Social enterprise accounts for about 6% of GDP across the EU and
the European Commission’s ‘Europe 2020’ strategy sets a target for this
contribution to grow to 9% GDP over the decade to 2020.

Non-profit making groups in Cork County who are interested in starting an E
Centre are encouraged to make contact with Julie Crowley on 026-20520 or
jcrowley@macroom-e.com or to check out the information available on
www.ecentres.ie. Businesses who are interested in taking a hot desk in one
of these centres are also encouraged to contact Julie for more details.

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