An outstanding year is being celebrated by the Larne-based business enterprise centre, LEDCOM, which 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 inMillbrook.
The annual report showed that LEDCOM worked with more than 1,400 people in training or job schemes; supported 135 social enterprise start-up businesses and invested more than £119,000 in the local community.
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.
“LEDCOM’s commitment to the community in Mid and East Antrim, Antrim and Newtownabbey areas has really delivered economic impact this year.
“Our staff has worked with many businesses and communities in these areas, giving hundreds of individuals hope for a brighter future,” Mr Fletcher said.
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 in the Mid and East Antrim and Antrim and Newtownabbey areas.
These included Business Start-up advice, Social Entrepreneurship, and Community Engagement and Employability.
Through its job promotion programmes, LEDCOM focuses 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.
During the year, a value of £8,435 of incubation support was invested in new start-up businesses/social enterprises and business growth projects.
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.”
The special guest and keynote speaker at the annual meeting 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.
Anyone who would like more information about LEDCOM is welcome to visit www.ledcom.org