The 2012/11/13 at 09:24
Placing the spotlight on local economic development projects – this is the mission of the Initiatives de l’Economie (literally, “Economy Initiatives), whose 9th edition handed down its verdict on 8 November during a ceremony at the French Economic, Social and Environmental Council (CESE) in Paris. This is the only initiative in France to award the actions of intermediary bodies serving businesses.
Following the examination of candidate applications by a jury made up of journalists from the economic press, six trophies are handed out for different categories. Business creation, craft professions, sustainable development and action in favour of employment are some of the themes studied to highlight original and constructive initiatives. With the support of the national network of Chambers of Commerce and Industry, along with other partners such as the Agence pour la Création d’Entreprise (APCE or Business Creation Agency) and the Assemblée Permanente des Chambres de Métiers et de l’Artisanat (APCMA or Permanent Assembly of Trade and Craft Industries), dynamic territorial players, often little recognised by the general public, receive the media coverage they require. “Our aim is to reward actions that generate economic wealth, jobs and cohesion in different territories. Every year, award winners thus benefit from significant visibility,” points out Jacky Isabello, founder of the event and Managing Partner of the communications and public relations agency Wellcom.
The CCI of Colmar and Centre-Alsace is amongst the players whose work has been hailed. Its creation of 481 jobs and support for 55 businesses in the context of specific development between April 2010 and April 2012 won it the trophy in the category “Trade, Industry and Services”. The companies Liebherr, Alcan, Timken, Mahle Piston, and Briqueterie de Rouffach financially contributed to a joint fund allowing the implementation of various actions: grants for job creations, accompaniment of 30 businesses by the CCI, a loan on trust, and support for the skills development for 25 companies. Affected by the crisis, the Centre-Alsace job basin suffered 443 job cuts, but the initiative has more than met its goal to create new ones to make up for the loss. All VSEs and SMEs representing industry, trade, services and craft industries were potential beneficiaries of the project.
Meanwhile, the association Savoir-Faire et Découverte, in the department of Orne, is another 2012 award winner, thanks to its initiative aiming to give everyone the means to change jobs. To facilitate career changes, the association works in favour of developing craft activities that are difficult to relocate and that bring strong environmental added value. It supports the public via practical training programmes, relying on 180 practising professionals seeking to transmit their savoir-faire. Over 50 professions are concerned. Around one half of the beneficiaries of these services set up their own projects and embark on new career paths.
Another initiative that deserves more publicity and is just as constructive is the renewal of the vanishing profession of ferrypersons transporting passengers from one river bank to the other, supported by the Île-de-France association Au Fil de l’Eau. The association seeks to promote the natural heritage of the Marne and Seine riverbanks by making them accessible to all and by preserving them. Anyone needing to cross a river may be interested by this type of project.
The initiative allows social links to be created between opposite banks of a river and supports job opportunities. The promotion of the association has yielded fruit. Since 2003, from May to October, ferrypersons offer services for crossing the Marne and the Seine Rivers. Every year, around ten employees are integrated to take care of summer navigation activities, canal maintenance and the removal of floating waste. “Amongst the projects granted awards by the Initiatives de l’Economie, certain good ideas attract copycats.
Many initiatives can be transposed to other territories, which is particularly encouraging in terms of employment and support for regional dynamism,” puts forward Jacky Isabello. The development of telecommuting in rural zones, support for company heads in their digital development, and the improvement of access to microcredit are amongst the other themes recognised by this 9th edition of the Initiatives de l’Economie.