Cluster, Collaboration, Community – Why Get Involved?

For small businesses in particular who are so used to working on their own, doing their own thing, relying on their own resources, it can often be challenging to step out and become part of a group of collaborators, but when the benefits outweigh the challenges, what’s not to consider.?! 

I’m not going to get too preachy about this subject but will share a few facts about the idea of collaboration/clustering that might persuade you to think of how it can support your tourism business.  

Our Experience 

My first encounter with clustering and seeing it work at it best was during the Border Uplands Project back in 2015 where four iconic capital developments were realized in the north west region.  The Cuilcagh Board Walk, Cavan Burren Forest Park, Queen Meave’s Trail and Devil Chimney View Point.  The counties of Fermanagh, Cavan, Sligo and Leitrim came together and collaborated on Interreg funded project, resulting in the development of iconic assets for the region.  Working together, communication, working towards a common goal, trusting, showing up, understanding ways of working, budget management, accountability, working for the greater good within the region, were all at play during this project, it taught me a lot, not least that the power of working together can produce some pretty spectacular results.   

The idea of businesses working in clusters, collaborating isn’t new, but it is certainly worth considering when it comes to supporting a regions economic sustainability.  Whilst we can as separate entities, work well, make profits and live quite comfortably, there is something special about coming together as one unit. Below are six reasons why becoming part of a cluster would be of value to you:  

  • Sharing Resources – this could be anything from bunting for a festival to the printing of documents 
  • Marketing Together – having one voice and one forum to say the same thing 
  • Sharing Ownership – a responsibility shared, is a responsibility halved 
  • Sharing Ideas – believe it or not but you may have missed something that someone else didn’t! 
  • Building something much bigger – having a group of people means having the power to do so much more 
  • Sustainability – we talk about this a lot, but it can be overwhelming for one person/business, but when together there is a shared responsibility  

What Next 

As cluster facilitators, we are about to launch a cluster programme in conjunction with Fermanagh Omagh District Council and a separate cluster programme for Leitrim Council.   In these programmes, we will be bringing tourism providers and perhaps other businesses tougher who see clustering as an opportunity for their business.   

If you feel that you, your area, or your business, would like to be part of a cluster and you want to bring together as a cluster unit, we can help facilitate it, and hopefully build on some idea generation for you.  

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