One of Northern Ireland’s top business enterprise centres has helped its clients to create and safeguard more than 300 jobs in 2017.
The figures were revealed at the Local Economic Development (LEDCOM) Company AGM held at its Willowbank Business Park site in Larne.
The annual report showed that LEDCOM worked with more than 1400 people in training or job schemes; supported 135 social enterprise start-up businesses and invested more than £119,000 in the local community through voluntary time and pro bono services.
LEDCOM’s Chair, Henry Fletcher said that it had been an outstanding year for the social enterprise and they looked ahead to 2018 with confidence.
He noted that the organisation was a self-financing social enterprise delivering local economic development support in a best value way with re-investment in local communities.
During 2017, LEDCOM was involved with initiatives and services which supported 1418 people, helping to create 300 new jobs and 135 new businesses and social enterprises through a variety of programmes, including Business Start-up advice, Social Entrepreneurship, and Community Engagement and Employability.
Through its job promotion programmes, LEDCOM focused on those from disadvantaged areas such as the long term unemployed, young people searching for work and those with disabilities.
The company currently has 52 tenant businesses and 388 employment and training places on its properties with the offer discounted rentals and incubation support to encourage new businesses to develop and grow.
Mr Fletcher added: “We act as a one stop shop for business advice to individuals and start-up businesses, providing incubation support and mentoring. This year we were chosen to deliver the new Northern Ireland Business Start Programme in Larne and for all of the Antrim and Newtownabbey council area. So far 94 clients have submitted business plans and we look forward to seeing new businesses grow from them.”
Special guest and keynote speaker at the AGM was Dr Brendan Murtagh of Queen’s University, an expert on urban regeneration, who has carried out an in-depth study of LEDCOM in order to measure the economic impact of social enterprises on the local economy.
Dr Murtagh found that during the study period LEDCOM traded with 17 other social enterprises across Northern Ireland and had re-invested more than £386,000 back into the social economy, equating to more than half of its total expenditure.
From his study he concluded that social enterprise was at the heart of facilitating local economic development and business growth in the Mid and East Antrim area.
For more information about LEDCOM visit www.ledcom.org