“Espace PME Paepsem”: Sustainable business hub as a fulcrum for urban renewal

The Paepsem SME Centre, inaugurated on 14 February 2014 in Anderlecht, welcomes young entrepreneurs and local businesses in a bid to generate jobs and stimulate economic development.

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The colourful Paepsem SME Centre. © Marie-Françoise Plissart The colourful Paepsem SME Centre. © Marie-Françoise Plissart

" The architecture of the Centre, through its shape and colour scheme, highlights both the ensemble and the separate parts of the building, and it aims to present the workshops as more than just functional areas: they are also pleasant and attractive. "

Philippe Antoine, Project Manager

One of twelve innovative projects to be awarded building site depollution subsidies by “Brussels Greenfields”, the Paepsem SME Centre, an ERDF-supported project, sits on a hectare of successfully restored land and offers 5 540 m2 of office space and workshops. An estimated 200 people will be employed by the companies that establish their headquarters here.

The Centre consists of 16 modules of 250 to 500 m2 each, spread out between two buildings designed to meet ambitious energy efficiency standards. Each new tenant will receive a shell (unfinished) office module to be custom fitted and equipped by the SME (small and medium-sized enterprise) as best suits its particular needs. These offices and workshops can accommodate construction and renovation firms, small manufacturers, artisans, agrifood processors, waste reuse and recycling companies, and ICT firms, for instance.

One of the Centre’s new tenants, Efarmz, sells organic, locally grown and artisanal food online, and offers home delivery, secure online payment and the promise of carefully selected, wholesome products from ethical producers. The company’s two founders are very pleased with “workshop A6”, the perfect space for their new headquarters, which they have adapted to their specific needs with a small office area and the remainder set up for receiving, storing, packing and dispatching their orders.

Catalyst for sustainable growth

The Paepsem SME Centre complements other urban development projects in the Anderlecht area, part of the Brussels Region’s “Priority Intervention Zone” around the Brussels-Charleroi Canal. The regional government, with the ERDF’s support, is encouraging SMEs and startups in a bid to create local, sustainable jobs that will help revitalise the area.

With its bright coloured walls — striking horizontal bands in various shades of blue, green, orange and yellow — the Centre serves as an upbeat, optimistic marker for the keen aspirations of local entrepreneurs and social advocates.

Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for “Espace PME Paepsem” was EUR 7 187 400, of which the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributed EUR 2 514 544 from the “Brussels Capital Region” Operational Programme for the 2007 to 2013 programming period.

Draft date