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Support systems for new activities in rural areas

Part 2 - Individual services
Space for working

How to use this guide & Table of Contents


Various LEADER groups have been trying to
develop a model of managed workspaces that is
particularly suited to rural areas.
These buildings can range from business
incubator for new start ups to
"Business and Innovation Centres" which
provide firms located inside and outside the
centre with a complete range of support services.


Common problems and bottlenecks Recommendations and guidelines (*)
  • Given the amount of funds they require, the main risk of all managed workspace schemes is that they can easily become funding rather than market led.
  • Clarify the objectives of the managed workspaces. Costs and subsidies will normally be higher when there are heavily interventionist economic or social objectives (e.g. excluded groups and areas or problem sectors, etc.).
  • The barriers to the creation of new activities may have little to do with the availability or cost of premises and more to do with other factors, such as the lack of markets.
  • It is not unusual for projects involving managed workspaces to start up in a context where there is actually a surplus of premises.
  • The orientation of managed workspaces may be dictated by secondary objectives such as:
    • the desire to make use of or to rehabilitate an existing building;
    • the desire to find a more equitable distribution of floor space by increasing supply at village level (decentralised workspaces).
  • Carry out a survey of needs in terms of space for existing firms and potential project promoters (e.g. price, size, location, physical characteristics, interest in common services, etc.).
  • An analysis of the existing supply in terms of floor space, in order to detect the real gaps in the market, is also recommended.
  • The amounts spent on constructing new buildings may be exorbitant.
  • It may be possible to solve this problem by making small improvements to existing premises.
  • In terms of businesses housed, the centre may not reach the minimum size necessary to make a sufficient contribution to costs.
  • Orientate the workspace towards the real needs of new activities in the area.
  • Rents and charges are often set to fill the building.
  • The centre turns into a collection of an odd assortment of heavily subsidised projects which are unable to move out and on.
  • The location and characteristics of the building may not meet the real needs of new activities.
  • Rather than generating new activities and resources for the support system, the project ends up becoming a drain on both the energy and the finances of the local action group.
  • Consider other options for supporting new activities. It may be far more cost effective to provide people setting up new activities with additional grant aid than to try and find solutions to their problems by finding premises for them.

(*) Technical factsheet 6 provides some advice for people thinking about setting up a business centre.

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