Are there any local government SE Initiatives?

Here are a few examples of local governments supporting development of social enterprises.  Added to the FAQ on December 13, 2006.
In Portland OR, USA, we have developed multiple social enterprises as part of the Economic Opportunity Initiative (also included are intensive workforce training & micro-enterprise projects with support services. The goal of the Initiative is to increase the income of participants by a minimum of 25% over three years. All participants are very low income from homeless folks to new immigrants to minimum wage workers and struggling businesspeople.  We don't have sufficient data yet to compare the effectiveness & costs of job training focused social enterprises to straight job training (both will include support services in our projects),or small business oriented social enterprises to more traditional, individually owned micro-enterprises. We will do that comparison in about a year.  Currently there are about 1500 initiative participants all of whom are seeing significant income increases. Please contact me for more information. (From Lynn Knox)
The City of Chicago, Mayor's Office of Workforce Development, gave out three social enterprise venture awards in 2006, each for $175,000. The awards were granted to: Growing Home Inc., the Safer Foundation, and Goodwill Enterprises. All three have social ventures that work with formerly incarcerated individuals.  (From Harry Rhodes)
There are many ways government can play a positive role in the development (and growth) of social enterprises. And vice versa. I have quite a few clients that provide goods or services to local governments. Favorable purchasing policies could be key if they were widely adopted. Another one of my clients is a vehicle for local economic development, serving as a vehicle for a public-private partnership (involving government and private sector investment) which will be profitable, but not enough to attract only private sector capital. In that venture, the government "buys" jobs and enhances its tax base relatively cheaply, and the private investors get a reasonable return with relatively little risk. Everyone wins.  In my view, the key is to focus on mutually advantageous and compelling outcomes, not structure, and not on promoting social enterprise for its own sake. Form will follow function.  (From Allen Bromberger)
Local government plays a central role in the development of social enterprises throughout England -- Tony Blair made social enterprise a priority more than five years ago by setting up a Social Enterprise Unit within the Department of Trade and Industry . . . since then, local authorities throughout the country's nine regions have been actively involved in the development of social enterprises through both Regional Development Agencies and smaller units of government . . . this past May, the government took another step by creating a new cabinet position called the Office of the Third Sector , which places a priority on the development of social enterprises -- additional information can be found at  The latest step is a new action plan for social enterprise entitled "Social Enterprise Action Plan: Scaling new heights," which has been launched by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, and Cabinet Office Ministers Hilary Armstrong and Ed Miliband. The plan aims to raise awareness of what social enterprises can achieve and encourage more participation and investment. Below is the press release issued November 16 announcing the plan.  (From Jerr Boshee)
The best article I've seen on this topic is from the book Leading for Innovation by Hesselbein, Goldsmith and Somerville.  Chapter 9 is titled Innovation in Government and was written by Stephen Goldsmith, the former mayor of Indianapolis, Indiana.  Goldsmith actually created an Enterprise Development Office along with numerous other market-based innovations.  You can read more about his experiences by going to the link below.  Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, St. Louis and Seattle also have excellent partnerships between government and social enterprises.  It may be worth investigating those particular cities.  I just returned from Sydney in October. I presented two sessions on Social Enterprise at the Jobs Australia National Conference.  (From David Rendall)
I have developed several social enterprises where government has played a role. For us, a key success factor is to find ways to align the social enterprise with the economic development strategies of the local government. Positioning the social enterprise as a strategic ally for both local government and the important industries the government is trying to develop makes good sense on several levels. This positioning has led to important introductions and alliances that have dramatically improved earned income and our ability to attract grants. We have obtained substantial government grants for new buildings and equipment by emphasizing that our social enterprises will create jobs, reduce unemployment and raise per capita income. We show how our enterprises lift people out of poverty by providing job training and skills that are in demand in local industries that are strategically important to the economic development of the community. In other words employment in our social enterprise is often the first rung in a career ladder for people that would otherwise require government assistance. Many people, including those in government, perceive non-profits as a drain on the economy. Therefore, it helps if the social enterprise can provide an economic impact analysis that clearly and convincingly illustrates the economic benefit it provides to the community. We always keep an eye out for problems the local government is trying to solve and then see if there is an opportunity for a social enterprise to play a role. For example: The State of California banned landfill disposal of electronic waste. That created an opportunity for us to develop a social enterprise that employs people with developmental disabilities to recycle electronic waste. The State provided a grant and technical assistance to start the program, which is now self sustaining.  (From Roland Burkert)