A range of projects and businesses that highlight the early successes and potential of Community Wealth Building took centre stage during Tom Arthur MSP’s visit to Ayrshire on Wednesday.
The Minister for Public Finance, Planning and Community Wealth was in the region to learn more about the early positive impact this new economic approach strategy has had.
The Ayrshire Growth Deal Community Wealth Building Project was launched last summer and is helping drive forward ambitious plans to create a regional Ayrshire economy based on wellbeing and inclusion.
The £3m Scottish and UK Government funded project has seen new Community Wealth Building officers appointed across the whole of the Ayrshire region to support local businesses – and help community organisations deliver Community Wealth Building(CWB) ambitions. A dedicated Fair Work Ayrshire team are working closely with Ayrshire Anchor Institutions and major employers to establish Ayrshire as a Fair Work region.
To kick off his visit, Mr Arthur was given a tour of the Lochshore development in Kilbirnie which is being heralded as a shining example of how local groups can work with larger organisations to use public land to benefit the whole club.
The £4.2 million Visitor and Community Hub includes contributions from North Ayrshire Council, Scottish Government’s Regeneration Capital Grant Fund, Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, Scottish Enterprise, Garnock Rugby Club, Sport Scotland and Land Trust.
Garnock Rugby Club are one of the local partners, supported by the Lochshore Development Group, and they will take advantage of the new facility to help encourage more people to get involved in the sport. Local sports, environmental and community groups will also have access to the facilities to support a variety of sports and events development at Lochshore.
Ayrshire Blinds in Irvine were the next port of call. This local business was looking to scale up their operation as their existing premises had been outgrown but didn’t have suitable land or assets to do so. The Ayrshire Growth Deal’s CWB Programme supported them in their move to a newly built and much larger North Ayrshire Council premises.
Mossgiel Organic Farm in Mauchline specialises in the supply of organic milk using sustainable and environmentally caring methods and Bryce Cunningham was on hand to explain how the Community Wealth Building team had supported them through a complex procurement process – helping them secure a contract to supply organic milk to local schools.
At the Ayrshire Food Hub Mr Arthur learned how the RCGF supported Crossroads Community Hub in establishing this local café, farm shop and community facility during summer 2021. With a local workforce of 26 staff as well as 12 weekly volunteers, the Hub is also home to a development kitchen, meeting room, a growing garden, and an online shop selling fresh local produce.
Mr Arthur was also taken to Grain Exchange in South Ayrshire to see how the CWB officers have helped with financial assistance to create a multi-purpose market, cultural and creative space in Ayr town centre.
Councillor Martin Dowey, Chair of the Regional Partnership, said: “We are delighted to welcome the Minister to Ayrshire to give him a tour of some of the projects that we are delivering through our Community Wealth Building work.
“While Community Wealth Building is a fairly new concept in Ayrshire it is already having a really positive impact and we are delighted with how successful it has been. We tried to show Mr Arthur the wide and varied scope that Community Wealth Building can have.
“Community Wealth Building and its principles will be key to everything we do across Ayrshire as we support the economic recovery and renewal of the region.”
Community Wealth Minister Tom Arthur said: “I have seen first-hand the benefit that Community Wealth Building (CWB) is making on the ground in Ayrshire, including how £3 million of Scottish Government investment in CWB is supporting local businesses and communities across the region.
“Community Wealth Building is a key tool to improve the wellbeing of communities as part of the Scottish Government’s National Strategy for Economic Transformation.
“It means fundamentally transforming what our economy is for and how it operates, developing a more resilient and equal economy that works for all our people and places.”