Councilor Bijderwieden: ‘The Entrepreneurship Fund must be active from 1 January 2023’

by Peter Donk
SLIEDRECHT – The City Council spoke on Monday evening, 20 June 2022 in the company of the host Rob Bastinck, General Manager JM de Jong GROEP BV (De Jong Beheer) | De Jong TECHNIQUE | The Young DUKE. The coffee machine company on Marisstraat 2 is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year. The council met in the restaurant during a pictorial meeting about the Entrepreneurship Fund. The entire College of B&W was present Monday night.

Councilor Roelant Bijderwieden (VVD) from Economy promised that the Entrepreneurs’ Fund will be established after the summer of 2022 and that it will become active on 1 January 2023. (Photo Peter Donk / Sliedrecht24)

Bastinck told about the company with a branch in Sliedrecht and in Tayler near Detroit in the USA. Fifth generation now works in the family business. He said the company stands for management, reliability, collaboration and innovation. Bastinck mentioned the 2268 solar panels on the roof about sustainability. It makes the company largely self-sufficient.

Councilor Roelant Bijderwieden (VVD) from Economics briefly introduced the evening, after which he gave the floor to Hilbert de Jong, economic-political adviser. He explained how the Entrepreneurship Fund arose. It was adopted by the City Council in May 2021. There we sat down with the Association of Sliedrechtse Ondernemingen (VSO) to write down priorities and plans. Together in a steering group, we worked on the implementation as it should look. In the meantime, research has also been done on and held with the business community. Among other things, 50 so-called strategic companies were visited.

‘To do together’
President Adrie Stuij of the Association of Sliedrechtse Ondernemingen (VSO) praised the host for sustainability. “I do not understand political discussions. We have developed an economic vision, where we have made all the parts with the desired image. In general, it provides space to make adjustments. Now my surprise and disappointment. No group asked how to build business relationships, “said Stuij, who asked several questions to councilors. It was not meant as a criticism, but according to Stuij more about ‘doing it together’. Stuij believes many plans can be made and elaborated on the basis of the economic vision. According to him, the engine is in business. As an example, he mentions buying things together, such as energy. According to Stuij, there are still many challenges, such as collective security.

In 2005, the first fund started in Leiden. By the beginning of 2023, there will be about fifty entrepreneurial funds in the Netherlands. Rob Manders from Bureau Blaauwberg strategy development & knowledge transfer helps the municipal administrators when it comes to the Entrepreneurship Fund. He gave councilors a brief overview of why a fund should be set up, how it works and what the next steps are. Manders talked about the motives for becoming a member of the Entrepreneurship Fund. It will be a lot cheaper if you buy something together. He also mentioned the greater need for cooperation due to a rapidly changing environment, stability in the business environment or breakthroughs of dependence and powerlessness (solving ‘freeriders’ problems). There will also be solidarity (the pursuit of cohesion).

Increase and yield
In an Entrepreneurship Fund, you follow the entrepreneurs’ ambition. The fund exists on the basis of a ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ between the municipality and the initiators. The fund may be subject to a higher property tax on commercial properties. The money goes to the fund, and the freedom to spend then lies with the entrepreneurs. Distance to the municipality is monitored in non-intervention and non-substitution. The advantage for the municipality is not the money, but it has a well-organized partner in the development of Sliedrecht. “You can see money being raised flowing back to the areas,” Manders said. An example where an entrepreneurial fund ‘takes steps’ is Hardinxveld-Giessendam. The ambition of VSO to support collectivity and joint action for Sliedrecht. In Sliedrecht, the use of a fund is based on € 75 per ton WOZ value, which according to the calculations should give about € 460,000 per year. There is now a very broad steering group and the first version of a report is available. Start is planned for 1 January 2023. There must be a foundation board, agreements must be made on ‘governance’ and laid down in a pact. Manders: “Every fund is a pilot, and after four years there is an evaluation. It is also about trusting this social initiative and letting entrepreneurs do it. ”

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