Digbeth Social Enterprise Quarter: June Networking Event with GBSLEP

This Digbeth Social Enterprise Quarter meeting we decided to go big. Our latest events have focused on the small, specific and local. For our February event we consulted with HS2 and Laing O’Rourke and Murphy Joint Venture about the Curzon Street Development and its affect on our local area, our last event during City Drive week focused down on social finance.

As we looked for something big to focus in on for this DSEQ networking meeting our thoughts arrived at the National Industrial Strategy.

The National Industrial Strategy was developed last year and we have been interested in its development and implementation. Many of the plans around implementation are focused into places, places were regional organisations were being drafted in to produce local industrial strategies, the local contexts for the national strategy.

For Birmingham and Solihull this was going to be developed through the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP) with our interest peaking as we discovered their creative industry was a key target for Birmingham. Digbeth is creative and with many creative social enterprises based in Digbeth it the perfect focus for our June networking event and so we invited in David Furmage, the Creative, Digital and Cultural Lead for GBSLEP.

Following a quick breakfast, all the social enterprises updated each other on their recent events and other activity. We were thrilled to hear about the fantastic work that Digbeth social enterprises are doing for our communities. Of particular interest was Friction Arts who are about to start a great new project for Birmingham. In January this year Birmingham Car Boot Sale, which had occurred at the Wholesale Markets every Sunday for the past 40 years was closed, losing this institution of Birmingham was a shame. Friction Arts are launching a new project ‘Birmingham Sunday Share’ in partnership with Active Streets from the 1st July, this will help to provide a space for those who have lost the Sunday market to gather as a community once again on a pedestrianised Rea Street South, a stone’s throw from the car boot sales previous location.

The meeting then continued into its main section with David introducing the Local Industrial Strategy, how the project has been developing so far, the business support programs that are being created that can help to support social enterprise, ideas for investment in our local economy through capital and revenue investment as well as in the development of skills. Following up from David’s presentation there was great discussion about how we can build in localism into the strategy. Overall a fantastic session and a first step as we continue to consult with the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership through till strategies completion in October.

Paul Barnes
Digbeth Social Enterprise Quarter Co-ordinator