The unique Thrive Whanganui expo over two days this week was a wholly commendable effort.

The event aimed to promote social enterprise - small, niche businesses that also have a mission to make an impact environmentally, socially and culturally - and, judging by the reaction of those who attended, it hit that mark.

This is not good-cause charity, nor is it about marketing ploys to look like you are doing the right thing. It is about the sharp end of running businesses, making money and developing a strategy that will see the operation sustain a profitable trajectory.

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Credit to organisers Marianne Archibald, Nicola Patrick and Andre Taylor - and all the others who helped pull it off.

The question now is will those seeds planted among the grassroots start to blossom. That, of course, is the test.

It is a tough job to start your own business, earn a living from it and keep it humming, but there was plenty of advice and support at the expo for those who want to give it a go.

And the ultimate aim of Thrive is to establish a social enterprise hub, with a number of such businesses, here in Whanganui.

This certainly seems an ideal place for such an innovation - low overheads, plenty of creative buzz and a strong collaborative spirit.

On the bigger economic front, Regional Development Minister Shane Jones was yesterday promising the big bucks to develop Whanganui's port and rail infrastructure.

The proviso was - quite correctly - that the business case stacks up, and that is work to be done on the ground here.

The port and rail links could both, of course, be of immense value to burgeoning social enterprises - even the one-man band has to move his product.

How satisfying it would be to see both ends of the scale - the grand and the intimate - reach fruition.