Larne Enterprise Development Company (LEDCOM) has played a major role in bringing the borough back from the brink of economic turmoil over the past year.
LEDCOM, which recently won the ‘Promoting Entrepreneurial Spirit’ Award in the inaugural Northern Ireland Enterprise Awards, is continuing to head up economic development on behalf of Larne Borough Council.
During the year it administered/project managed a raft of economic development initiatives on behalf of the council.
The company played a central role with the council, Department for Employment and Learning, Jobs and Benefits Office and Invest NI in responding to the fallout from significant job cuts at the town’s Caterpillar plant.
This included involvement in the organisation of several redundancy advice clinics at Caterpillar for those faced with losing their jobs.
LEDCOM’s annual Director’s Report, which was published this week, showed that the company was engaged in a range of job creation programmes that will benefit Larne as it emerges from the economic downturn.
LEDCOM Chairman Henry Fletcher said it had been a very busy year in the borough as the company dealt with all aspects of economic development.
He added: “LEDCOM has been working closely with Larne Borough Council and other partners to create the economic conditions possible to create jobs to help deal with the last set of job cuts at Caterpillar. It was vital that we continued with the demanding work of encouraging a climate where small businesses can flourish and grow.”
Over the year, LEDCOM was involved in the research, management, organisation and delivery of a number of economic development projects and events on behalf of Larne Council.
The company developed and now manages a new programme aimed at young people under the age of 26. The Advance Programme, funded by Lloyds TSB Foundation for Northern Ireland, will place 40 young people in paid temporary posts with social enterprises across Northern Ireland with the aim of creating full time jobs at the end of the programme.
During the year LEDCOM also carried out a range of business development work throughout Larne, Carrickfergus, Newtownabbey, Ballymena and Moyle.
LEDCOM was engaged through Enterprise NI to manage the Social Entrepreneurship Programme across Northern Ireland as well as delivering the programme in Larne, Ballymena, Ballymoney, Newtownabbey, Antrim and Carrickfergus.
The Social Entrepreneurship Programme (SEP) is an Invest NI programme aimed at supporting social economy business start-ups and providing business development support. It is Northern Ireland’s flagship programme for the development of the social economy sector.
LEDCOM also worked with 14 community organisations to set up seven new social economy businesses, creating 25 potential new jobs. These included seven posts at Water Wheel, a new water bottling plant in Larne.
It was also involved in delivering the Exploring Enterprise2 Programme (EEP) in Larne. The EEP is a free six day programme, match funded by Larne Borough Council, to improve employment opportunities for unemployed people. The programme has been a great success with many of them securing full or part-time employment or going on to further education or training. A Celebration event was held to mark this success at Willowbank in Larne.
LEDCOM successfully tendered to Northern Regional College for the DEL funded Learner Access and Engagement Programme (LAE) in Larne for adults and NEETS (Not in Education, Employment or Training) aged 16-18 in the borough.
The LAE programme is directed at those ‘hard to reach’ adults and young people who are economically inactive with few or no qualifications, to encourage them to take suitable training to prepare for employment.
A range of accredited educational courses were available including essential skills in Numeracy and Literacy, ICT, Creative Craft, Food Safety and Sports Leadership.
The past year has seen LEDCOM become one of the leading organisations in Northern Ireland promoting and developing the social economy sector.
Indeed, it has itself spun out two new social enterprise companies – Business Led NI and Ethical Development Trust North. Business Led NI was set up in August as a consultancy arm of LEDCOM, tendering for public, private and community contracts and business opportunities.
The Ethical Development Trust North is a new partnership between LEDCOM, Ashton Community Trust and Queen’s University, delivering a full package of social enterprise property development support in the greater North Belfast area.
LEDCOM’s work in encouraging new businesses was recognised at the first Northern Ireland Enterprise Awards in Belfast on November 29 when it won the prestigious ‘Promoting Entrepreneurial Spirit’ Award.