TestTown- an opportunity to make a positive change

November 1, 2016

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Ruth Rowe, Entrepreneurship Officer at Bridgend College

Bridgend is ‘My Hometown’ and to echo the words of that Bruce Springsteen song, I cared that ‘seems like there ain’t nobody wants to come down here no more.’ Being a Carnegie UK Test Town in 2015 afforded an amazing opportunity to make a positive change here and now other towns can benefit by following the tips and ideas on the portal and in the manual to change lives and communities for the better.

Leading the fantastic team that delivered the Test Town Bridgend Youth Enterprise Market was a privilege. It was a thoroughly rewarding experience that I would recommend highly – though possibly with the caveat that it’s not for the faint-hearted! The three day market allowed 53 aspiring young entrepreneurs to test trade and also increased footfall by an average of 32% in a historic market town in need of vibrant new retailers.

Ed Shorney Go Rookie (Keith Heppell)Developing the entrepreneurial skills, attitudes and networks of young people through the provision of an exciting and innovative practical experience was a key objective of the youth enterprise market. This was achieved by the relatively small project team that comprised representatives from Bridgend County Borough Council departments, notably Marketing, Economic Development and Trading Standards, three Bridgend College staff and an extremely entrepreneurial Bridgend College alumnus who was a Test Town UK finalist in 2015 and now runs his own business, GoRookie. Their combined expertise, experience and enthusiasm were absolutely crucial to the success of the project and resulted in a whole host of other partners contributing their time, skills and knowledge.

The social media marketing campaign also played a key part as it was the key tool for ‘recruiting’ participants as well raising awareness. Thanks to our two digital marketing geniuses it generated an amazing 408 Facebook likes and 420 Twitter followers very cost effectively.

My top tips for a building your own Test Town would be to recruit a passionate and committed team and to remember ‘if you don’t ask (very politely), you don’t get.’ You never know you might even get Bruce Springsteen to open your event!

Find out how to build your own TestTown here.