Investment builds local businesses thanks to Council’s investment fund

Published on February 6, 2017 in Updates

Seven local business projects in Totnes are to benefit from the Devon County Council’s Invest in Devon Fund, thanks to Lib Dem Councillor Robert Vint, who said, “The hope is that these investments will help create local jobs and provide for local needs while benefitting local communities”. The projects were chosen because they support the local food economy, promote local sustainable transport, help young people to develop careers in the Arts and help more new and community enterprises to set themselves up.

“Totnes has been badly battered by economic changes in recent decades. Globalisation, centralisation and the relocation of business to major cities has resulted in the closure of many major employers,” explains Cllr Vint.  “An alternative to chasing ‘big business as usual’ is to invest in resilient community businesses and social enterprises that create local jobs and provide for local needs while benefitting local communities. The Local Economic Blueprint for Totnes & District, drafted by the REconomy Centre, shows how we can revive the local economy through community enterprises that provide local food, produce local energy, repair and restore local houses and support local health care needs. Inspired by such examples I have worked with the REconomy Centre to identify opportunities to support new local businesses of this kind.”

The recipient of one of the awards, the Totnes REconomy Centre, worked with Cllr Vint to identify another six social enterprises in Totnes & District suitable for support.

The REconomy Centre itself received £1,400 for a video camera and projector that will assist in its aims to support new projects that raise community wellbeing, improve environmental sustainability, and increase the resilience of the local economy.  “In Totnes, we’ve framed our work in terms of inspiring a new kind of economic system – or, at least, a new kind of community-led economic regeneration and development,” says project coordinator Jay Tompt.  “Our local and regional economies should create an abundance of opportunity for people to meet their needs, in ways that work with natural systems, are inclusive and fair, and that generally increase the well being of the entire community.”

Grown in Totnes, which received £9,125 to buy a grain dryer and cleaner for its local grain production project.  As project coordinator Holly Tiffen explains, “Our three farmers already grew grains and legumes, but for animal feed.  Grown in Totnes provides them with an opportunity to diversify into new markets for human consumption.  We’re grateful to Cllr Vint and Devon County Council for helping us with the purchase of this vital new equipment.”

Another food project, Totnes10, received £795 to help support community events such as the Forking Local Food Festival, which will take place again this year after a successful launch last October.  “Totnes10 works to connect local people and restauranteurs with their local food producers and retailers, which will strengthen the local food economy,” says its manager Myrtle Cooper.  “Community outreach events such as the Forking Local Food Festival form a central part of that effort, and our new folding chairs, marquee, and tablet computer are essential bits of kit.”

Community Interest Company Wild&Curious’ Wild Food for Wellbeing project provides affordable wild food education and experiences for young people and members of the community, including educational foraging walks and outdoor cooking. A grant of £615 will purchase outdoor cooking equipment for foraging sessions, and a printer to help with marketing and promotion.

Arts Lab at Dartington received £6,625 for video production equipment to further their aims of providing space, equipment, training and materials to transform the lives of ‘forgotten’, hard-to-reach individuals whilst also fostering the production of high quality of art from artists and young people alike.

Video production company Nu-Project received £1,625 for a new laptop for production and post production on location, supporting its non-profit project Communicating the Change, dedicated to supporting and elevating sustainable community projects and social enterprises.

E-co Cars will be purchasing a fuel-efficient second hand car to expand its car club (they already have three cars in other parts of Totnes) to the Follaton area for the use of residents and those that work in the area.  The £4,625 received will not only purchase the car but equip it with the technology required for the car club booking system.  Car clubs provide their members with convenient access to cleaner vehicles without the expense of ownership, and have been shown to contribute to emissions reduction, improvements to air quality and encouraging individuals to increase their use of public transport.  They also reduce demand for parking, and help sustain long term employment for people who do not own a car.

The Investing in Devon – Local Project Fund was created after the County Council sold Exeter International Airport in 2007; a Local Projects Fund was established to provide each County Councillor a capital fund to enable them to respond to local needs within their divisions, supporting projects that benefit the communities they represent.  Councillors have been allocated £10,000 per councillor per year; Cllr Vint’s contributions amount to the accumulated sums for a couple of years. More details about the fund online.

Find out more about the Totnes REconomy Centre .