‘Can Do’ campaign to unlock £240m for Scottish economy

Susan Maxwell, organiser of The Loch Lomond Craft Centre, with Iain Scott and dogs Tinker, Taggie and Alba. Picture: Ian Jacobs
Susan Maxwell, organiser of The Loch Lomond Craft Centre, with Iain Scott and dogs Tinker, Taggie and Alba. Picture: Ian Jacobs
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A national co-working campaign is seeking to unlock almost £240 million for the Scottish economy by converting empty buildings into collaborative workspaces.

The Scottish Government-funded Can Do Places initiative aims to help areas with low business start-up rates boost their economies and widen access to enterprise.

The campaign turns empty buildings into collaborative working spaces for people seeking to take their business “from home to high street” or “hidden” entrepreneurs looking to start a company.

It includes a “Community Superheroes” initiative, which encourages local people to identify and transform disused buildings in their communities for the project.

The programme calculated that if a Can Do Place in each of Scotland’s localities could house ten new or growing firms with an annual turnover of £50,000, it would add up to £239.5m to Scotland’s economy.

Director Iain Scott said: “It’s a win-win for Scotland, because as well as helping people take their first steps in business, we’re tackling the blight of empty buildings, which costs Scotland an estimated £6 billion a year in lost revenue.

“Inclusive growth is about boosting the economy while widening access to opportunity for all, and the Can Do Places model is already delivering this for communities across Scotland.”

Susan Maxwell, of Alexandria Arts Action Group in West Dunbartonshire, is one of the organisers of a new community “Creative Can Do Space”, The Loch Lomond Craft Centre, which opened in the town’s dilapidated shopping centre.

She said: “I went to a Can Do Places workshop in Paisley a few years ago and that galvanised the idea of creating a co-working space for artists and innovators. I thought we might have difficulty filling it, but we currently have more than 70 local suppliers making an amazing variety of things.”

The Can Do Places website, www.candoplaces.org, has recently been relaunched to showcase learning from across Scotland on one central site.