The event was organised by Firstport, Scotland’s agency for social enterprise as part of their Vital Spark programme, and will include speakers addressing some of the area’s key issues.
Funded by Highlands and Islands Enterprise with support from Caledonian MacBrayne, Vital Spark is an initiative specifically designed to revitalise local areas in Argyll and the Islands.
The programme operates from local hubs in three of the biggest towns in the area- Dunoon, Campbeltown and Rothesay - and aims to inspire individuals to set up social enterprises that generate skills, provide jobs and create revenue streams whilst tackling the issues they care about.
The issues of population decline, youth migration and a lack of employment opportunities in the region are well documented and have again been brought to the fore by the recently published Argyll and Bute Economic Forum report.
The report highlights the 2011 census, which showed a continuation of population decline- 3.4% overall.
The report also identifies opportunities in key growing sectors, namely tourism and food and drink production and the potential boost of digital infrastructure.
It highlights the strong entrepreneurial tradition of the area, the existing base of great small businesses and the potential of retaining young people who want to stay in Argyll, by providing high-quality education and exposure to local businesses and opportunities.
Karen McGregor, Firstport’s chief executive, said: “Programmes like Vital Spark can and are already supporting the ambitious objectives of this report.
“We believe that the best ideas to regenerate local areas come from the people who live there, and we have examples of ideas being developed through Vital Spark that directly relate to the areas of opportunity identified by the report.
“For example, we are supporting a cooperative of growers in Dunoon, producing local, nutritious food; an enterprise rejuvenating the heritage of Kintyre through a programme of cultural events, which will bring tourism into the area and a youth centre being set up by two young local residents of Rothesay, who love their town and want to provide more opportunities for young people to get together, explore and enjoy the beautiful surroundings on their doorstep”.
Nick Ferguson CBE, chair of the Argyll Economic Forum, said: “A clear conclusion from the Forum’s report is that to achieve the potential of the area, a joint approach is needed and there are many possible solutions to achieve our shared vision. It is great to see that programmes like Vital Spark are playing an active role in realising that vision by unlocking local people’s potential to make a difference in the issues pertaining to their communities”.
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