A fast-growing social enterprise has clinched a £37 million in contracts – and is aiming to win even more business.
The news was revealed at the official opening of the new business park in Mochdre where Creating Enterprise has moved into a state-of-the-art headquarters.
The pioneering development by housing association Cartrefi Conwy, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, will kick start plans for regeneration projects across North Wales and to build up to 300 new homes.
The business park is the first of its kind in Wales and is also providing jobs and training for unemployed tenants so they can get back into the world of work.
Two of the six units at the £1.7 million business park are being rented by Creating Enterprise which is a subsidiary of Cartrefi Conwy.
The other occupants are builders’ merchants Travis Perkins and Brenig Construction who built the park.
Creating Enterprise, which became the first organisation of its kind in Wales when it began operating three years ago, provides a planned maintenance service for the 3,800 properties managed by the housing association.
According to Adrian Johnson, the managing director of Commercial Services for the Cartrefi Conwy group, the business park was a launchpad for future growth.
Mr Johnson said:
“The main remit for Creating Enterprise is expanding the organisation and ensuring we’re in a position to employ more people. That’s the key to the business.
“Our order book is growing year on year and we have £37 million of work for the next five years which is contractually in place.
“We are demonstrating we are the contractor of choice for Cartrefi Conwy for planned and cyclical maintenance.
“We’re also building up our client base outside of Cartrefi Conwy and we have just completed a £200,000 contract refurbishing student accommodation and we have won a gas servicing contract with Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board at the nurses’ and doctors’ accommodation near Glan Clwyd Hospital in Bodelwyddan.
“In addition, we’re working for other social housing providers like Pennaf and doing the painting and decorating work for developers such as Brenig.
“It means we can we can guarantee paid employment to tenants because we’re not a management contractor that just wants to subcontract the work streams out. We’re a contractor who does carry a direct labour force, and we bring on those furthest from the job market to give them opportunities, whether it be paid employment, some volunteering, or just having that opportunity to get some work experience for their CVs.”
Cutting the ribbon to declare the business park open was Cllr Louise Emery, the Cabinet member for the Economy at Conwy County Borough Council.
She said: “I am very impressed. They are market leaders in social enterprise and their future plans are stunning.
“Importantly, everything is being done for the benefit ultimately of the tenants. I think this is the key to this organisation is that they looked after the homes and now they they’re looking after the people in the homes.
“Being commercial is absolutely a good thing. Shout it from the rooftops. You need money, and the fact that they don’t want to be reliant on grants means they’re sustainable.”
As well employing nearly 60 people. Creating Enterprise has help 50 tenants get a job and the organisation also recently secured a £500,000 grant from the Big Lottery to support working families in Conwy who are struggling financially.
There was more good news when it was revealed Creating Enterprise had been named by the charity foundation NESTA, the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts, as one of 50 New Radicals who are actively changing their communities for the better across the UK.
Creating Enterprise runs a ground-breaking employment academy which has helped 50 unemployed tenants find full-time jobs and provided training for almost 200 tenants who are looking for work.
Business and Partnership Director Sharon Jones said: “We are on an amazing journey and our business has grown from £500,000 in year one to almost £10 million this year.
“There are huge opportunities for us as an organisation in the construction sector. Welsh Government want to build 20,000 affordable homes in Wales by 2021 and in North Wales in particular there are huge construction programmes in the pipelines, notably Wylfa Newydd on Anglesey.”
Gwynne Jones, the Managing Director of Cartrefi Conwy, said; “This is a big day for Cartrefi Conwy and the perfect way to celebrate our 10th anniversary.
“Our strapline is about creating a community to be proud of and that’s exactly what we’re doing.
“We value the tenants and residents that live within our community and Creating Enterprise provides hope and opportunities for some aspirational thinking for our community members.”
It was also a big day for Mark Parry. the Managing Director of Brenig Construction, who said: “We’re delighted to be strategic partners with Cartrefi Conwy and we do a great deal of collaborative work with Creating Enterprise. It’s a dynamic approach to partnering.
“We were based in a small office in Colwyn Bay so the move has given us room to grow.
“We have grown significantly over the six years we have been trading and this is a key milestone in our development.”