A CAMPAIGN has been launched to open up empty buildings to co-working community groups and small firms.

The Scottish Government-funded Can Do Places scheme aims to help communities with low business start-up rates boost their economies and widen access to enterprise by turning empty buildings.

The target is to turn each location into the equivalent of £500,000 businesses, generating £240 million of value for Scotland’s economy.

The scheme helps communities start the process of opening collaborative spaces in buildings including former shops, offices, libraries and schools.

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Iain Scott, director of Can Do Places, said aspiring entrepreneurs and growing businesses can use premises to "develop their ideas, work together and expand".

He added: "It’s a win-win for Scotland, because as well as helping people take their first steps in business, we’re tackling the blight of empty buildings, which costs Scotland an estimated £6 billion a year in lost revenue.

"Inclusive growth is about boosting the economy while widening access to opportunity for all, and the Can Do Places model is already delivering this for communities across Scotland."

Scotland has 479 localities with a resident population of more than 1,000, all with empty buildings.

If they each had a £500,000 Can Do Place, it adds up to £239.5m of economic value for Scotland.

People taking their first step in business, or seeking a stepping stone that will take their new business from home to high street are being called on to identify and transform buildings.

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Susan Maxwell, of Alexandria Arts Action Group, helped set up the Loch Lomond Craft Centre which opened in the West Dunbartonshire town’s shopping centre.

She said: "I went to a Can Do Places workshop in Paisley a few years ago and that galvanised the idea of creating a co-working space for artists and innovators.

"I thought we might have difficulty filling it, but we currently have more than 70 local suppliers making an amazing variety of things."