Key players in regional development

« Third Places and Local Authorities - How can we work together?


Réseau des collectivités Territoriales pour une Economie Solidaire (RTES)

At the heart of our regions, third places are developing the economy of tomorrow, one that is more ecological, social and inclusive. Local and regional authorities, as the main partners of third places, have an essential role to play in supporting this movement and rethinking the relationship between administrations and civil society on a more fundamental level. RTES helped produce the guide from which this analysis is taken. The « Guide Tiers-Lieux & collectivités 2023 ", published by France Tiers-Lieux, is a tool for local authorities to help them better understand and support third-party players.

To download : ftl_collectivites_digital-2.pdf (13 MiB)

Third-Party Centres are home to a wide range of activities in the general interest, which the public authorities have every interest in supporting.

Third places help to create economic activities that meet local needs.

They help to revitalise areas in difficulty by encouraging the emergence of local economic activities and jobs. They provide a favourable environment for entrepreneurship, innovation and job creation.

Third-Party Centres are driving forces behind the development of the PTCEs (Pôles Territoriaux de Coopération Économique).

With their ability to stimulate local ecosystems and encourage cooperation in the interests of regional development, third places hold the seeds of genuine economic cooperation clusters. While not all of them are on the scale of an ECTP, they can take lighter forms in less densely populated areas where an ECTP would be out of place. Like Imaginations Fertiles in Toulouse or TETRIS in Grasse, a number of third places have developed and obtained PTCE recognition. Going in the opposite direction, more and more PTCEs are taking inspiration from third-party dynamics and have developed this type of project. According to the study carried out in 2021 by the Labo de l’ESS, more than 65% of PTCEs manage a third place.

Third places are key players in training for the jobs of tomorrow

In 2023, 400,000 people received vocational training in a third-location centre. In 2022, the Ministry of Labour, Régions de France and the ANCT launched the « DEFFINOV Tiers-lieux » programme to support training in third places, spaces that are accessible and attractive to different audiences, and innovative in terms of learning methods. With a budget of €50 million, the programme aims to bring together training ecosystems and third places to develop training for the professions of tomorrow and support innovative teaching methods.

Third places are places where people meet and mix, where they can socialise and be welcomed unconditionally.

Third places are spaces for cultural experimentation

Third-party venues provide an appropriate response to the issues of access to culture and cultural rights. The Ministry of Culture’s Territorial Innovation Fund supports third places as a way of reducing territorial inequalities in cultural provision. Like the programme launched by the DRAC (Direction régionale des Affaires culturelles) PACA : anchored in their region, third places are spaces for social links, emancipation and collective initiatives. Each third-party centre develops its own unique activity, but they all encourage informal encounters, creativity and collective projects. In third places, people create, train, learn, do things together, make things and take part. Noting the need to offer support to these places of animation of territories, with often fragile financial balances, and drawing conclusions from the call for projects «  cultural and citizen third places  » launched in spring 2020, the DRAC PACA proposes a call for initiatives «  third places in Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur ".

Third-Party Venues Create Non-De-locatable Jobs and Activities

The Ministry of Labour has identified third-party centres as places for creating activities and jobs that cannot be relocated, and which can be financed by revitalisation funds (funds dedicated to creating jobs in areas that have suffered major redundancies). A number of third places have been supported to create jobs in areas in difficulty, such as La Mine in Arcueil : « a springboard to employment ».

Third places are places committed to reuse and relocation of production

The Manufactures de proximité programme, set up by the ANCT and France Tiers- Lieux, has provided support for 100 third places dedicated to the relocation of production and re-use. These local factories are particularly involved in ecological transition initiatives. Many of them are producing through re-use: 53% of the approved factories are re-using raw materials, such as La Petite Manchester in Mulhouse, which works with manufacturers in the Grand Est region to identify promising textile resources that are then transformed by employees on social integration schemes. Nearly 65% of Manufactures are also involved in local awareness-raising initiatives. For example, Bordanova, near Toulouse, is home to the ÊTRE school (École de la Transition Écologique), which provides training in ecological transition for the general public. 17% of Manufactures are involved in agricultural and food practices that help to preserve soil and species (such as l’Arbre en Normandie, near Bayeux, or Mady&Co, in Morbihan).

Civil society committed to the ecological transition

Third-party centres can act as hyper-neighbourly communities committed to raising awareness and disseminating sustainable practices (introduction to composting or zero waste, repairing or bartering objects, etc.), launching projects linked to the circular economy or the agro-ecological transition.


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