SEARCH ON FOR ENTERPRISING COMMUNITIES
The Department of Trade and Industry has launched Enterprising Britain 2007, a competition to find cities, towns and communities that have placed enterprise at their heart. The competition is a key part of the Government’s drive to increase entrepreneurship in the UK, identify areas of enterprise excellence and places that have created jobs, brought communities together, and made a real difference to local people and local businesses.
The UK enterprise champion will be selected from innovative projects that have used the spirit of enterprise over the last three years to make a difference to people’s lives. They will be initiatives that have worked together, pooled resources and created sustainable communities and where enterprise has been key in regenerating a whole area.
The winner of the 2006 competition, West Kilbride, suffered from a range of economic problems in recent years, with the loss of large-scale manufacturing jobs leading to above average unemployment. The town lost many traditional retail outlets and 21 empty and unkempt shops presented a poor image. There was a lack of services and a low level of civic pride. Enthusiasm for the future was at an all time low, which was indicative of the wider economic problems hitting Ayrshire as a whole.
In 1996 the West Kilbride Community Initiative Ltd was founded to pursue the theme of the Craft & Design Town aimed at regenerating the area by providing affordable studio accommodation for designer makers and creating a focus for craft & design in West Kilbride. Redundant retail outlets were turned into studios with display and sale space for independent craft workers. The town centre was revitalised, local architecture was enhanced and the town attracted visitors.
Partnership working was the key to success. Partners included local community and volunteer workers, schools and colleges, North Ayrshire Council and Scottish Enterprise Ayrshire, the Scottish Arts Council, Craft Scotland, the Moffat Trust, Visit Scotland, local businesses and other tourist providers, and commercial sponsors.
Regional heats for the 2007 competition will run until 31 May and projects can be entered through local Regional Development Agencies, the Welsh Development Agency, Invest Northern Ireland or Scottish Enterprise. The 12 regional winners will be visited by members of the judging panel over the summer with the national winner being announced at an awards event in September. The national winner will represent the UK at the European Enterprise Awards in December 2007.