Community of associations and initiatives launched in Ghent
Business people, artists and politicians joined hands last night during the launch of the Ghent Community under the ‘Jointly Wise’ Samen Wijs banner to promote closer collaboration with a view to strengthening the city’s trump cards. Last year Ghent businessman and CEO of Gourmet Invent, Henk Verhaest, launched the initiative to bring together the city and region’s associations and create a platform to improve collaboration on innovation, enterpreneurship and creativity in the city and region. “This has obviously been done before,” said born and bred Ghent-resident Luc De Bruyckere the former president of Voka, Flemish Employers when he introduced the organization together with Ghent mayor Daniel Termont SP.A last night. “But there was room for improvement. And it’s obvious that something like The Community has woken everyone up.” According to De Bruyckere, the objective of the initiative is to unite the strengths and talents of those living and working in the city and region, using associations and organizations as a platform for partnering and collaboration. De Bruyckere likes to refer to urban guru Charles Landry’s high esteem for the city, which he called a 'pocket sized metropolis' in the Creative City Index 2011. What he liked about the city was the intimate small-city charm paired with its metropolitan openness. “A city cannot receive a bigger compliment,” says De Bruyckere. “But we cannot become complacent. We want to utilize our talent even more. And on all levels: from a cultural to a sports level, and on education and science, social and socio-economic level. The ‘wise’ in the slogan must be interpreted in two ways: in the meaning of the local dialect as ‘great’ and more generally as ‘clever’, ‘sensible’.” Once the website and web portal have been launched as a common site for all stakeholding organizations, the first event to be launched on 20 June is ‘Wise women’. It will explore ways in which women can make Ghent an even ‘wiser’ city. The ‘Wise young people’ launched later in the year will run along a similar vein. Key to the initiative will be the engagement of participating associations. The bulk of the funding currently comes from the four main sponsors: BNP Paribas Fortis, Ernst&Young, Ethias Insurance and Partena. The budget of tens of thousands of euros will be used to run the non-profit organization. Some of the participating organizations include the KAA Ghent football club, University of Ghent, Vlerick Business School, the City of Ghent, Voka East Flanders, iMinds, Flanders Festival, Collegium Vocale and the Ghent Film Festival.