Local Action Groups (LAG) Keskipiste-Leader, Finland
The area of the LAG Keskipiste-Leader is situated in the middle of Finland and it consists of eight small towns: Haapajärvi, Haapavesi, Kärsämäki, Nivala, Pyhäntä, Pyhäjärvi, Reisjärvi and Siikalatva. This area of 10 400 km2 has about 45 000 inhabitants. Special characteristics of this rural area are active villages, strong and original culture, fantastic entrepreneurial spirit and a large number of children and young people. The main challenge is to create more jobs, especially for young people. Thus they could come back to this area after studying and having a family.
Keskipiste-Leader is a rural development association, one of the 56 Finnish local action groups. Its mission is to support local and balanced development of the area. The two main areas of the action are supporting of economic and youth activities. Projects that relate to sources of livelihood should aim at creating new jobs and enterprises. Youth projects should increase young people’s activity in project actions, raise them into entrepreneurship and inspire them to develop their own home district. In accordance with the development program the LAG Keskipiste-Leader supports small enterprises, young people’s living conditions, innovations and new solutions (for example introduction of new products and methods), cooperation and networking. In the programming period 2007 – 2013 the maximum amount of public funding for Leader projects is 150,000 Euro per project. In 2007 – 2013 the amount of public funding available through Keskipiste-Leader LAG is 7 million euros.
The LAG Keskipiste-Leader encourages young people to participate in development actions. Youth Leader is a funding instrument for young people’s own projects. Funding can be applied for example for arranging events or improving hobby opportunities. The goal is that young people become interested in developing their home district by means of planning and execution of their own small but important projects. The application is very simple and fast. Young people can do the planning, the execution and the reporting of the project by themselves.
Project example: Village House "Väentupa"
Village association PyhäjärvenKolmikanta built a village house with support by the Leader investment project. The project was a great effort for the village association, with thousands of hours of volunteer work. When the village house is completed it can be used by all generations, from children to elder people.