A NEW social enterprise company aiming to boost Frodsham’s fortunes is a ‘big deal’ for the historic market town, say community leaders.
“It’s all about promoting enterprise and innovation and seeking positive change, with new ways of doing stuff to improve what we’ve got,” said Rod Hyde, leader of a steering group working to establish the Frodsham Foundation community co-operative.
A consortium of local government, business and community groups, including healthcare, education and youth representatives, Frodsham Foundation is to become legally established as a limited-by-guarantee company with charitable status, and will soon start competing in money-making markets like any other business.
But with a resolute public service ethos and no external shareholders to worry about, the foundation will continually reinvest profits directly back into the community, funding projects to boost local business and employment and training opportunities, especially for young people, and support and improve leisure and cultural facilities in the town.
Businessman Mr Hyde, treasurer of Frodsham Youth Association and Helsby High School governor – described as ‘an entrepreneur with a social conscience’ by former mayor Andrew Dawson – is likely to chair the foundation’s board of about 12 directors/trustees, dubbed the Town Team.
The overall lead will rest with newly appointed town champion Kate Dodgson.
She will quit her job as clerk to Frodsham Town Council to act as the foundation’s full-time executive director – the only paid role within the new company, with a salary of up to £35,000 jointly funded for the next two years by the town council and Cheshire West and Chester Council.
“The whole board will meet about four times a year, and we expect any trustee to get involved in at least one project running with Frodsham Foundation, to see the opportunities the company presents and give their time and risk some money,” said Mr Hyde.
He said the foundation aimed to deliver projects and services in its own right and be self-sustaining within two years, deriving income from its own activities and through grants and donations.
Focusing on ‘innovative uses of space and resources’, the foundation aims to provide ‘co-ordinated planning and management’ to shape and guide Frodsham’s town centre and community.
Identifying gaps in the retail market and seeking out new entrepreneurs, with business mentoring through a skills bank and using vacant retail properties as pop-up shops to support budding traders.
Create public Wi-Fi and e-commerce, flexible and extended shop opening hours.
Brand and market Frodsham as a wedding venue, cycling and walking town.
“The foundation is legally obliged to be independent from the council, but we will be working with the same objectives in mind,” said Mr Hyde.
“It makes sense to respond locally to changes in the economy and create more opportunities in all aspects of our community, but it’s not all about commerce.
“We want to support projects by individuals in a range of different ways, or initiate stuff ourselves.
“We’ve really got to deliver – and we need to keep consulting to make sure what we are doing is what the community wants.”
Starter projects already being planned include an activity day in October, bringing all local youth groups together – including Scouts, Guides, fire and Army cadets and theatre groups – to showcase their activities and attract new members.
A locally produced food market will be launched next year as part of a Bee Festival celebrating Frodsham and all the town has to offer.