Economic development is not just a job for the council!
People can have a big impact on where they live by their different roles in the economy – as business owners, investors, shoppers, employees and networkers. They have the closest understanding of the community, its needs and opportunities, so are well placed to maximise local potential and take back some economic power.
Channels through which communities can shape their local economies include: through neighbourhood planning; involvement in partnerships such as Business Improvement Districts and neighbourhood forums; through community groups that set up new initiatives to meet identified needs; through influencing the buying and trading behaviours of others; through community banking.
Ideas for action include:
- Taking control – MCED is all about local communities taking control of their own area and their economy. Reclaiming the power of the local economy to make sure that local residents benefit from all economic activity and inward investment.
- Local purchasing power – Thinking about the extent to which your community group and all its members can purchase goods and services from local shops and businesses.
- Promoting local businesses and services– to what degree can your organisation help promote local businesses and services? For example if you own or manage a community centre, can you promote local businesses on your website or provide a forum for business networking and sales events?
- Develop a local loyalty scheme – work with local businesses to develop a local loyalty scheme or local currency which helps to promote and support local businesses and services
- Identify gaps in the local economy – Can you plug the leaks where local expenditure leaves the area? What types of services and goods are available to buy locally in your area? How dependent is your area upon purchasing things from multinationals? For example food shops, childcare, cleaning services?
- Find ways to fill these gaps – Can you encourage and/or support local people to start up a new community business to fill these gaps and in doing so, retain more money within the local economy and help provide local employment? Consider co-operative models and social enterprise models for these to safeguard local benefits in the longer term.
- Match local savings with local lending: Can you work with a credit union or similar to help make the links between savers and borrowers so that local investments can strengthen the area?
- Maximise your local assets: Do you have special or underused buildings, local parks or open space or cultural characteristics have unexplored potential?Can you make space for local enterprise?
This isn’t comprehensive – contact us with any suggestions to add.
See Reconomy website for excellent resources for increasing an area’s sustainable livelihoods.
Printable MCED briefing for communities (pdf)