Minister launches county as social enterprise zone
CORNWALL has officially become the rural home for businesses which aim to benefit the whole community rather than just line the pockets of shareholders.
Britain's first rural social enterprise zone was launched at the Eden Project by Minister for Civil Society Nick Hurd.
He first visited Fifteen Cornwall at Watergate Bay, a social enterprise which gives young people from challenging backgrounds the chance to gain qualifications in the hospitality industry.
And in Eden's Mediterranean biome the minister said: "Where Cornwall leads I genuinely expect others will follow. I hope and I believe that this is a very significant day for Cornwall.
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"Social enterprises should be part of the fabric of Cornwall and part of the culture of Cornwall.
"They are not just about profit, they are about improving things and to me that is a rather beautiful vision."
"Cornwall is rich in social enterprise and innovation, and supporting and nurturing this sector is key to Cornwall's plans for the future. So it is right that it should be home to the first rural social enterprise zone in the country.
"Designating the entire county as a social enterprise zone will provide co-ordination, consistency and a clear voice for the many great charities and organisations working right across the region to create a sustainable benefit to communities."
Mr Hurd surprised his audience with the mention of a personal link to the county, saying: "Cornwall is the place where I asked my wife to marry me, so it is a place I associate with great ideas."
There are estimated to be more than 1,000 social enterprises in Cornwall, with about 38 per cent working in the most deprived fifth of communities.
They are estimated to contribute £270 million to the local economy, employ 13,000 people and provide 30,000 volunteer opportunities.
Establishing the social enterprise zone has been driven by businesses and organisations such as Cornwall College and the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership.
The zone has five targets, including helping grow the next generation of social entrepreneurs by having all young people in the county undertake at least one practical social enterprise by the time they are 18.
Jon Rolls, social enterprise programme manager, said: "It's a fantastic opportunity for Cornwall. It's the first time the spotlight has been on the sector and hopefully it will show just what potential there is here."
Lindsey Hall, of the Real Ideas Organisation, a social enterprise, said the launch was the result of a shared vision and six months of hard work.
"Cornwall has a unique history. It is a place where creating jobs and supporting communities are intrinsically linked; where visionary mavericks take industrial wastelands and transform them into business engines and places that make your soul sing; where doing good business is about doing good."