A new £1.4m economic regeneration scheme designed to create 36 jobs over the next couple of years was opened in west Belfast today.
The Social Economy Village is the culmination of ten years of hard work and planning by local enterprise agency Work West.
The 15,000 sq ft building on Hannahstown Hill was funded by the The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment with help from EU Peace and Reconciliation money, the International Fund for Ireland (IFI) and Work West itself.
Workspace in the village is targeted at social economy enterprises involved in manufacturing or tradable services - such businesses re-investing their surpluses back into the business or the local economy rather than paying out to shareholders or owners.
Kevin Delaney, chairman of Work West said: "The aim of the Social Economy Village is to aid the regeneration of this area and to offer a dedicated purpose-built space for social economy businesses."
He added: "The support for social enterprises is critical to achieving Work West's long term strategy of supporting local economic development."
Denis Rooney, chairman of the IFI, said at the opening it was a time of great celebration for everyone involved in getting the Work West Social Economy Village up and running.
"This building is a superb example of how social economy organisations working together can achieve a great deal to directly benefit their communities.
"This investment will help stimulate economic growth, develop the potential for employment and facilitate skills training for the people of west Belfast."
The first tenant, the Belfast Hills Partnership, has just moved in.
It is made up of local councils, government department and community groups, nature conservancy organisations and businesses committed to caring for the Belfast Hills, their wildlife and people.
Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster welcomed the opening saying the Economy Village could help stimulate economic growth in the area and encourage entrepreneurship.
The minister said: "The development will provide much-needed regeneration within the local community, helping to address the social and economic disadvantages experienced in west Belfast in recent years."
The workspace development is one of over 40 projects across Northern Ireland set up to create new jobs in deprived areas by providing more flexible accommodation for new and expanding businesses.