“Our launch site is in a traditionally very socio-economically depressed region of New Zealand: The Mahia Peninsula, which is on the north island and best known for its gang culture in Wairoa, a nearby city. Now it’s building a reputation as the space coast. There are now signs in the township that say: “Wairoa, Gateway to the Galaxy”.

We send scientists out to local schools with rocket kits. It’s awesome.

Personally, that’s one of the most rewarding things about business: seeing the community support you, and getting kids engaged in maths and science – then following that through by supporting university scholarships.

Being present in the local community and wider education also helps with recruitment. In the past month alone, we’ve received more than 8,000 CVs. Not just from locals, but from around the world.”

Wow. I think Beck’s understanding of business and what it can do to transform the surrounding community is really inspiring. Imagine being a kid growing up in ‘gangland’ and suddenly finding your neighbourhood is the ‘Gateway to the Galaxy’! How cool would that be! And to then get those kids to engage at the core of the transformation through education with simple ideas like rocket kits and funky signposts to the Universe – that’s placemaking at its best. And it works both ways. Its no surprise that recruitment just got a whole lot easier for the company that created a generation of local kids that are turned on by maths and science. Who doesn’t love a win win like that ?!

I’m currently working on the Whitehill and Bordon Regeneration project. We aren’t launching rockets as Hampshire’s a bit too crowded but we are launching a brand new town centre with a Maker’s Market at it’s heart. The Makers Market is a dedicated space for small business designed to encourage new startups and entrepreneurs and house established local business. The ‘Market’ will have over 20,000 square feet of cool workspaces and event spaces designed for for start ups and makers, as well as the very best business support to encourage successful entrepreneurship.

But the big question is – who will make their homes here? The built environment itself cannot be the whole answer. People, especially young people, need to care. So, like Peter Beck and his team at Rocket Lab, the team at the Whitehill and Bordon Regen Coare busy working to create new communities through events, both business and social, ahead of the opening of the new town centre in 2019. The Head Teacher of the local school and the Chair of the Board of Governors regularly attend the monthly business networking meetings at the Royal Exchange to foster links between business and education. James Child, W & B project lead, also sits on the Board of Governors. But how much are we doing to make sure that the children at this local school are the adults that will take up residence in the Makers Market? I think it’s time to take a leaf out of Beck’s book and create some small business toolkits and special enrepreneurship events for school kids. More on this later.

Just a final thought for anyone local – if signs announcing Wairoa now read ‘Gateway to the Galaxy’ – what should the Whitehill and Bordon signs read?!’ Please leave any helpful thoughts in the comments below.

If you’d like to read more about my work in Whitehill and Bordon head over to my blog