I have been working in Cornwall on a social enterprise project - which will open this Autumn - Heartlands - and fellow Fellows might want to hear about it - especially those styled social entrepreneurs.
On a 15 acre site at Pool (north west Cornwall) this £35 million development includes a park, new village centre, energy generation systems, children's centre, visitor centre, artists studios, live work units, new market squares and housing. Since 2006 I have involved in all aspects of the project, acting as an adviser to Cornwall Council. I designed and wrote the application to the Big Lottery Fund which raised £22 million in 2007. This has levered in a further £13 million to the scheme. This has mostly been public sector but now there is developing private sector interest. So - I'm suggesting that this project has a number of features that are worth looking at. It's asset backed social enterprise development - trading based but with development land, supported but not run by the public sector - not supported financially I should say. On the base that we're building much new social enterprise can flourish. It doesn't defend on grant funding and is less vulnerable than many community 'anchors'.
The project has inevitably made me think hard about what sustainability in the third sector is, how to make money as a social entrepreneur (I'm not purely acting philanthropically), how to engage with the RSA with this work. And of course why the Big Society debate is currently under theorised. Above all it's fantastic to see a project which has been dreamt about by the community being built and I'm personally delighted to have been able to help out.
Want to know more? Get in touch! I'm on the Steering Group for Connected Communities too which Tom Neumark is running with Gaia Marcus on the research side.
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