In preparing this case study report, the INTERREG ACTION Project t eam examined all available documentation on Dunhill Rural Enterprises Ltd (DREL), including annual reports, promotional materials and presentations. Alongside this desk research, a guided interview was conducted with Dr Senan Cooke, present secretary and a founding member of DREL, who resides at Ballycraddock, Dunhill, Co Waterford.
Dunhill is one half of the parish of Dunhill-Fenor, which includes Annestown and Boatstrand. It is a small rural parish with a population of 1,800. Located on the south-east coast of Ireland in County Waterford, it is 13km from Waterford City and 6km from Tramore. In the late 1980s the area was characterized by falling employment, mainly in agriculture and traditional manufacturing industry. Dr Senan Cooke outlined how the reduction in pupil numbers in both local national schools resulted in the loss of two outstanding teachers, one in each school, increasing the pupil teacher ratio dramatically. The closure of the local post office, the cancellation of local bus services and major rationalisations at Waterford Foods Ltd and Waterford Crystal Ltd., led to the setting up of a local task group, whose remit was to identify the assets available that could be mobilized for enterprise and job creation. The aim was to build a more self – reliant and sustainable community capable of retaining young families and a full range of services in the parish. In 1992 a group of nine people from the Dunhill-Fenor parish formed the task force. The outcome of its work was that in 1993 DFBA (Dunhill-Fenor-Boatstrand-Annestown) Community Enterprises Limited was established. The aim of DFBA was to develop the community socially, economically and culturally, using all the resources available.
At national level, the Programme for Economic and Social Progress (PESP), a social partnership agreement, was promoting a bottom up approach to rural regeneration. It was supported by an EU funded Leader Programme, designed to regenerate rural communities across Europe. PESP initiated the establishment of county and city enterprise boards to address the needs of rising unemployment in rural and urban areas countrywide. In the early 1990s, unemployment reached 17.4% and rural areas were particularly badly hit. In the initial years, 1993-1998, DFBA initiated and successfully managed a number of environmental, tourism, social and heritage projects.
In 1999, Dunhill Rural Enterprises Limited (DREL) was formed in Dunhill and purchased two acres at Ballyphilip, which was later extended by 9.5 acres to 11.5 acres in total. DREL was set up to work on the promotion and development of enterprise and education projects in the main. DREL joined a number of other project groups linked into the parent community company, DFBA Community Enterprises Ltd. DFBA encouraged a range of interest groups and individuals in the four main population areas of the parish, to engage in development best suited to the resources available to them . In this way, a large number of people in the parish had reason to get involved, as their interest and expertise was welcome and could be put to work on the wide range of project options available.
Dunhill Rural Enterprises Limited (DREL) is a registered not-for-profit, limited liability Company, with charitable status. It is a voluntary community-based organisation. The Board of Directors /Executive Committee are all volunteers drawn from the community. Incorporated in 1999, DREL was granted charities exemption in 2003. A set of Articles and a Memorandum of Association was drawn up and from them a company mission statement and objectives were developed. A local legal firm and an accountancy firm act as legal advisor and auditor for the company. The executive committee includes business, accountancy, education, construction and a range of other expertise relevant to the work of DREL, ensuring best governance and management practices.
The company holds fortnightly meetings and the board oversees all key management areas, deals with issues of legal compliance, corporate governance, financial management, accountancy, banking and insurance to maintain high standards, and at all times, strives to preserve a community ethos. All company expenditure is approved by the board and audited accounts are produced ensuring transparency on all income and expenditure transactions. The audited accounts are presented explained by the auditor at the company’s Annual General Meeting of the board and subsequently at a public Annual General Meeting of DFBA Community Enterprises Ltd, which is always very well attended.
In their promotional literature, Dunhill Rural Enterprises Limited (DREL) affirm that their mission is to create a supportive enterprise environment, in which local entrepreneurs are encouraged to start up businesses, providing many new employment opportunities. The aim of DREL is to play a leading role in establishing a successful micro-economy in Dunhill-Fenor parish and become a best practice model for sustainable rural regeneration countrywide. DREL has developed a ‘Programme for Economic Self-Reliance’, with an objective to create 10 to 20 jobs in every rural community and 20,000 jobs countrywide in the period 2011 to 2016. This programme is based on their experience to date and can be replicated in many communities around the country. DREL are currently lobbying political, business and civic leaders to take it on board and promote it across the country, as a job creation model for rural communities.
The main objectives of DREL are:
Protect and develop our environment, heritage and tourism potential
Enhance the social, economic and cultural experience and provide additional ‘quality of life’ opportunities in the community
Act as a fulcrum for co-operation between community organisations, individuals and government agencies, ensuring opportunities for job creation and economic activity are maximised
Champion an integrated approach to rural regeneration through partnerships, joint ventures and collaboration projects locally, countywide , regionally, nationally and internationally
Identify and utilise available dormant assets across a range of sectors and interests including enterprise, education, environment, tourism, social, heritage, culture and recreation.
Current portfolio of activities includes:
Dunhill Ecopark, unique in Ireland as being the only community-owned enterprise park run with an ecological ethos, with 3000 m2 of space for offices and light industry supported by 2.5 acres of a constructed wetlands system
Gleann Ealach (Valley of the Swans) A scheme of homes for the elderly for those in need of them in the parish
Dunhill Castle was purchased in 1999 and maintained as a prime to urist attraction
Anne Valley Constructed Wetlands
Suide Iol-Oidis Dúin Aill (Dunhill Multi-Education Centre) is housed in the Enterprise Centre and is FETAC accredited, providing a wide range of educational options for people
Knockaderry Looped Walking Trail is under review as an educational and recreational tourism facility
Copper Coast Ecolodge is at the planning and funding stage and will include a forty bed facility for many interested in recreation, ecology, education and cultural holidays
Anne Valley Recreation Trail is in the process of planning and development. It has massive potential covering eight kilometres and suitable for walkers, cyclists and pony trekkers
Management of two INTERREG Projects, one on the development of ‘social enterprise’ and the other on the development of a ‘sense of place’ tourism product, both covering County Waterford
All DREL assets are vested in community ownership and available to every person, family and visitors, who are very welcome at all times
The first output of Dunhill Rural Enterprises Limited (DREL) was the development of an integrated community d evelopment plan. From here, the company started with quick win, low risk projects to build up a knowledge base, establish confidence, communicate the vision and gain consensus on priorities for the future . They initially focused on social, educational and environmental improvement projects, co-opting talented local individuals on to working groups, providing free expert advice and networking for new and valuable resources. Following the initial successes in these areas, they turned to enterprise creation, which contained more risk and responsibility.
In 2000, the first phase of the Enterprise Centre was opened, providing unit space for small business in the area totalling 1,000m2. Phase two opened later that year, adding a further 2,000m2 of business space. These developments were financed by a combination of grant aid and borrowings. DREL currently leases space to some 28 businesses, involving a broad mix of skills and qualifications. The businesses include a range of traditional and social enterprises, such as, Dunhill Multi Education Centre, Dunhill Cuisine Ltd, Tramore Credit Union and the Waterford LEADER Partnership.
The 108 people working in Dunhill Ecopark at present include three staff members with Dunhill Rural Enterprises Limited (DREL) and six with Dunhill Multi Education Centre, while enterprises renting space in the Enterprise Park employ the balance (DREL, 2011). Spin off employment in the local area include local service providers, such as maintenance personnel, suppliers of produce and materials to the ecopark, contract lecturers in the education centre. A number of successful enterprises were incubated in the park over the years and have moved on. Both current spin off employment and departed companies from the Ecopark are not factored into the employment figure as outlined above. The Board and committee of DREL are very committed and contribute in excess of 1000hrs of voluntary time each year.
Dunhill Rural Enterprises Limited (DREL) generates some €m turnover per annum through its trading activities, contributing an estimated €.3m to the state in tax revenue and welfare savings, and generating an estimated community economic benefit of €.3m each year.
Investment in DREL has come primarily from the local community. The community contribution to date represents 79% of the funds invested in the organisation. The state and private sector have invested just 17% and 4% respectively. The surplus income from the activities in the ecopark have been reinvested in both the ecopark and other voluntary community based projects sometimes used as matching funding to lever grant aid for new development projects.
Dunhill Rural Enterprises Limited (DREL) has purchased an additional 9.5 acres of land at Dunhill Ecopark (11.5 acres in total) and plans to develop:
An eight live-in unit inventors village
Forty bed eco-lodge tourist accommodation
7000m2 additional enterprise space for services, light industry and laboratories;
An extension to the Enterprise Centre car park
2.5 acres of additional integrated constructed wetlands for waste water treatment
The promotion of a ‘Programme for Economic Self-Reliance’ with government, business and civic leaders. There are many opportunities for development included, of which some, at the initial stages of DREL, were not identified as such. This model also highlights the barriers and blockages encountered, which need to be removed if more successful community enterprise centres are to be established
Outside the Ecopark site, DREL plans to develop additional a homes for the elderly housing scheme, carry out further restoration on Dunhill Castle; extend walking route from Dunhill Village to Dunhill Castle, Annestown and then across to Fenor Bog, which is a 36 acre fen bog, now designated a national nature reserve
The DFBA motto, “there is no limit to what can be achieved by a community working together”, acts as a guiding principle at all times and the emphasis is always on inclusion, integration and innovation. Dunhill Rural Enterprises Ltd embraces the sentiment in their working objectives. DREL has exciting plans in the pipeline that will ensure its growth and prosperity in the future.
This case study has been prepared by the ACTION Pilot Project team which is part funded by the Ireland Wales Programme 2007 – 2012 (INTERREG A4). This project is a collaborative undertaking between Dunhill Rural Enterprises Limited and the University of Wales Trinity Saint David. The purpose of the project is to develop and pilot an innovative model for community regeneration and job creation, by facilitating community and social enterprises to grow through the replication of good ideas, peer support and the development of ‘social franchises’
Helen Kavanagh, Project Development Officer and Maureen Kiely, Project Administration Officer are the project team members, based in Dunhill.
Manager: Paul Dunne.
Accounts Technician: Catherine Moore.
Maureen Kiely: email: email@example.com Tel No 051-396007
Dr Senan Cooke: email: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel No 087-2228374