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Community opportunities emerge as social enterprise mapped across Central Highlands

Published:01 June 2021

The Central Highlands Social Enterprise Project, led by CQUniversity, has mapped the local social innovation ecosystem.

A six-month project to promote social entrepreneurship across Central Highlands communities has delivered a key milestone, mapping the diverse range of contributors in the region’s social enterprise ecosystem.

The high-level map captures nearly 50 organisations and initiatives across the region, which drive and support the social enterprise landscape.

lt’s based on data gathered across six local events as part of the Central Highlands Social Enterprise Project, led by CQUniversity and Central Highlands Community Services and funded by the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal, through its program Tackling Tough Times Together.

CQUniversity Program Manager Social Innovation Steve Williams said the map was a boost for local social innovators.

“Thanks to funding from FRRR, we have been able to map for the first time the ecosystem of support for social innovation and enterprise in the region,” he said.

“Developed by and with Central Highlands community, it gives a clear picture of what support is available across the region for social innovation and social enterprise, and new ways to understand connection points between organisations.”

Mr Williams acknowledged advice from colleagues at QUT, Chad Redondo and Char-Lee Moyle, as well as input from CQUniversity’s Dr Linda Pfieffer, who is leading MIT Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Program (MIT REAP), that supported the mapping.

The map is designed to grow with Central Highlands’ emerging social enterprise community, and will be housed jointly by CQUniversity’s Office of Social Innovation and the new Social Enterprise Hub at CQUni Emerald coordinated by CHCS.

CHCS CEO Blake Repine said the map was "incredibly beneficial" for the region.

"The process to define and map all those connection points across Central Highlands highlights some really strong associations, and is already helping bring those key stakeholders together to  grow social enterprise," he said.

"We're seeing new opportunities and enterprise that I don't think would have happened without this project, and its also providing a launch pad to for our local entrepreneurs to work with other social enterprises at state and national level."

The Central Highlands Social Enterprise Project has included a series of workshops at the Emerald campus, where participants chose and endorsed key themes of Connected, Leadership, Locally-Focused Mindset, and Sustainability for local enterprise development.

The final Vision and Strategy for the project will be released late June 2021.

Project supporter and peak body the Queensland Social Enterprise Council (QSEC) estimates that a successful Australian social enterprise generates on average 15 jobs in its community, and new start-ups in regional communities can deliver huge social benefits.