BUSINESS: Poole social enterprise hub thriving after LEP loan


Bournemouth Churches Housing Association (BCHA) has managed to transform and open The Factory in Poole after a successful partnership with Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

The multi-use facility at Alder Hills was acquired by BCHA after Dorset LEP provided a low interest five-year loan of £775,000 through its Growing Places Fund scheme.

Now a business development and training hub, a small business and social enterprise centre of excellence, the former Remploy factory was purchased, refurbished and opened within the past few years, and has led to the creation of 26 jobs.

The Dorset LEP Growing Places Fund is designed to unlock capital projects which have significant economic impact and the potential to increase innovation and productivity, create new jobs and housing.

“Extremely grateful”

Martin Lucas, BCHA Director of Finance and Corporate Resources, said: “This is an excellent example of partnership working between two of Dorset’s premier organisations which has led to the establishment of this brilliant facility.

“We are extremely grateful to Dorset LEP for the provision of this short term loan funding to enable us to invest back into the community to develop this vital resource, create jobs and provide skills opportunities for so many people.

“It would have been exceedingly difficult to achieve this without the backing of Dorset LEP – as well as a significant donation and interest free loan from Talbot Village Trust.

“We not face the exciting challenge of attracting more co-worker and conference bookings from the wider business community, public bodies, the NHS and schools and colleges for our facilities.

“The refurbishment was completed in August 2015 and the Factory has since grown into a popular workspace. There is a friendly, family atmosphere and shared responsibility between staff, co-workers and longer term tenants.”

A variety of facilities

Catering and cafe amenities are also available at The Factory, along with office rental, conferencing facilities, co-working desk hire and business administration services, operating as part of the New Leaf Company Limited, a subsidiary of Bournemouth-based BCHA.

Not-for-profit charity Dorset Scrapstore, which recycles unwanted materials and sells them to businesses and community groups, has been a key tenant since 2016.

Other businesses based at the premises include a specialist printer/model aircraft kits supplier and a bespoke designer of soft furnishings firm.

BCHA finance and IT teams have been housed at The Factory since last August, and courses are hosted there held by the skills academy New Directions, which helps people find job opportunities in the engineering and manufacturing sector.

The Factory has also been used for a number of half term and summer workshops and regular craft events for the local community, as well as a DIY wedding fair and the launch of the BCP Homelessness Street Support campaign.

Sara Uzzell, Chair of Dorset LEP Growing Places Fund Steering Group, said: “Boosting businesses and jobs is a cornerstone of our work. We are delighted to have been able to support BCHA in the successful completion of The Factory and its transformation into a new business development, supporting small business and social enterprise.”

Main Image: PARTNERSHIP COMMEMORATED: Martin Lucas , BCHA Director of Finance & Corporate Resources, with Sara Uzzell, Chair of Dorset LEP Growing Places Fund Steering Group, at The Factory


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