Good Practice Project
Many small islands suffer from a decline in business activity. On Ærø Island, the Marstal Engine Factory has always been at the heart of the trading and shipping history. Through the establishment of a community hub within the old factory’s premises, the project aims to preserve the area’s maritime heritage while increasing local maritime entrepreneurship.
The hub, which highlights the diversity of maritime jobs, focuses on supporting innovative – including new technology and digital – businesses and entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurs can benefit from shared office spaces for rent, a series of business development courses, as well as regular workshops. The space allows young entrepreneurs to find their place within the coastal community which, in turn, will contribute to the economic growth, local development and social cohesion on Ærø.
The first part of the Engine Factory’s refurbishment was completed in June 2019. New concrete floors were laid, and two new toilets were built. Currently, 165 square meters of functional office space are already available to entrepreneurs. Next, conference facilities and a garage will be added. Large parts of the old factory and its machinery are still exhibited in the building today, preserving the cultural heritage associated with the site.
Two jobs have been created as part of the project, for the management of the office facilities and advice to the entrepreneurs. The company MaRe Shipping has installed itself in the building and the first seven flex-member companies have joined the office space, which was inaugurated on 11 June 2019.
Community hubs and shared office spaces are increasingly being established across Europe. In remote coastal and island communities, in particular, such projects can help tackle the issue associated with depopulation. In such areas, if maritime heritage buildings exist, they can potentially be transformed into community hubs that promote local entrepreneurship, capitalising on the assets of the past to build those of the future.
It is important to build on the history and traditions of the community. Old buildings must be revitalised in line with the previous use of the premises. Consulting and asking for advice from people who have launched similar initiatives is essential.
Contribution to CLLD objective: Promoting social well-being and cultural heritage in fisheries and aquaculture areas, including fisheries and maritime cultural heritage.
|Total project cost||€189 150|
|Timeframe of implementation||From Jan 2018 to Jan 2020|
|Type of area|