Community and enterprise groups invited to avail of E-Centre initiative

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-ups 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  ensure that business- es 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 or to check out the information available on  Businesses who are interested in taking a hot desk in one of these centres are also encouraged to contact Julie for more details.