Social capital key to Belfast’s regeneration ambitions

Belfasts ambition is justifiably bold says Scots entreprenuer Marie Macklin
Belfasts ambition is justifiably bold says Scots entreprenuer Marie Macklin

Belfast could benefit from a wealth of untapped social capital as it progresses its plans for regeneration if it listens to the opinions of its people, according to Scottish entrepreneur Marie Macklin CBE.

Social capital is the impact of the relationships among people who live and work in a society that support its ambitions and enable its growth.

Ms Macklin is the owner of Macklin Enterprise Partnerships which invests in entrepreneurial businesses and develops special-purpose investment funds. She is in Belfast this week to speak at the Belfast International Homecoming conference and has highlighted similarities between Belfast and her native Glasgow in terms of the City’s ongoing physical and social regeneration.

Ms Macklin, who was awarded a CBE in 2014 for her Services to Economic Regeneration and Entrepreneurship in Scotland, said: “There is much to learn from Glasgow’s transformation over the past forty years or so.

“Belfast’s ambition to create the most aspirational, entrepreneurial society in the world and a sustainable and lasting legacy for generations to come is bold – just as it should be.

“Property development is not just about the regeneration of buildings. It’s about tapping into the social capital, the ideas of the people, so that the future will benefit those who will use the spaces.

“We need to listen to people and by having a say they can give new developments a heart.

“For Belfast to fulfil this ambition it is imperative that the people of the city are fully-involved from the outset and that they are integral to the collaborations, partnerships and friendships that must be built.”

Belfast International Homecoming will be addressed by more than 40 local and international speakers, touching on three key themes: the physical development of the city, promoting entrepreneurship and attracting and keeping talent. A series of events across Belfast will culminate in a major business and investment conference at Titanic Belfast this Friday, October 14.

Keynote speakers for the three-day event include Brian Golden, head of the Redevelopment Authority, Boston; Joseba Asiron, Mayor of Pamplona/Iruña, the Basque Country; Stuart Patrick, CEO of Glasgow City Council; Representative Mike Fitzpatrick, New York State Assembly and Brian Conlon, CEO of Newry based First Derivatives.