Localising Prosperity? See Localise West Midlands’ new website

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On the Localising Prosperity website, Localise West Midlands asks if you want to maximise the benefits of economic development in your area: “Do you want a socially inclusive, redistributive, prosperous economy?”

This is about localising prosperity for everyoneby integrating community economic development into everyday business. About understanding and building upon an area’s existing strengths so that it can develop from within – maximising the local economic and social benefits for all. To learn more, go to the new website.

It’s a private, public, social and for-profit agenda.

It can be used within public bodies, community groups, private businesses, local enterprise partnerships, Chambers, Business Improvement Districts, thinktanks and the voluntary sector anyone who wants to play a role in making places better and sharing prosperity.

There is a “virtuous circle” relationship between more locally owned businesses, more local power, better social outcomes and greater prosperity:

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LWM’s research concluded that higher levels of small business and local ownership lead to higher levels of economic success, job creation, social inclusion, civic engagement, well-being and local distinctiveness, and this virtuous circle explains how.

So we can realise local economic power rather than handing it to ‘absentee landlords’ i.e. distant private and public sector owners with little understanding of the local area.

Localise West Midlands secured funding from the Barrow Cadbury Trust for 2013-14 to develop this work, building on their 2012-13 research findings and generating practical outcomes from the approach.

Graham Young’s account in the Birmingham Mail quoted Professor David Cannadine: “The Barrow Cadbury Trust has been both an exemplary and a pioneering charity, especially concerned with social improvement, social justice, peace and reconciliation.” Many local people will remember the founders’ son, Paul Cadbury, who furthered these causes, chairing Birmingham’s Research Committee, which published a 1941 document called ‘When We Build Again’, a visionary attempt to look beyond the Second World War towards rebuilding the city.

Localise West Midlands is one of several organisations working to rebuild and rebalance the economy.

Continuing the good work on mainstreaming stronger & more inclusive local economies

I’m pleased to report that Localise WM has secured funding from the Barrow Cadbury Trust for 2013-14 to progress our work on Mainstreaming Community Economic Development.

BCtrust logoYou may be aware of our previous Mainstreaming CED project, which amassed a remarkable body of evidence around the social and economic benefits of localised economies (see our literature review or its summary) and then outlined how a local and community orientated approach can be integrated into conventional economic development to maximise these benefits.

This has given us a really useful body of material we can use to support progressive economic development, so we’re pleased to be able to develop it further, working with others to generate practical outcomes and building on our 2012-13 research findings:

  • Engaging and discussing the opportunities of Mainstreaming Community Economic Development with project managers, policy makers and politicians
  • Developing an informal learning network of  practitioner to provide the opportunity for shared learning and wider implementation
  • Working with partners to mainstream community economic development by testing its feasibility and ease of implementation in the West Midlands
  • Monitoring and evaluating the impact of the mainstreaming community economic development approach and the implications for future learning and implementation

Conrad Parke portraitIn particular we are planning to work with a hospital regeneration and supply chain project, a group of SMEs and other organisations aiming to establish a SME co-operative to facilitate joint winning of contracts;  and one or two local authority strategies on specific issues. LWM colleagues for this project are excellent new additions Conrad Parke and Sarah Longlands, and longer-standing LWM members Jon Morris and myself.Sarah Longlands pic

Local authority cuts of course make this an incredibly challenging time for public services including economic development – and likewise for communities. But it also necessitates a rethink about how we deliver ‘more with less’ and less unequally. Some public bodies are exploring these ideas, and we hope our MCED work will help that trend to become more widespread.

We are also happy to talk to anyone about potential opportunities to progress this strand of work elsewhere.

The MCED project webpage is here, with links to the previous research page, reports, briefings and related work, and we’ll be posting update blogs here as the year progresses.

Karen Leach

How does economic localisation contribute to social inclusion & redistribution? Sources anyone?

We are currently seeking funding for a research project entitled “Mainstreaming Community Economic Development for inclusion and redistribution” – looking at the policy and practice changes needed to get the benefits of localisation approaches more into the mainstream economy. This seems a good opportunity to crowd-source some evidence on localisation benefits!

The first stage of this will be to review literature on this: how an economic localisation and “community economic development” approach can contribute to inclusion and redistribution, and create resilience and success.

This will form a basis on which to then investigate ‘on the ground’ experience of how such approaches can play a greater part in the mainstream economy.

So as part of our preparatory work we are seeking sources of any type on how localisation approaches (economies that are more decentralised and diverse and have more local ownership and a higher local multiplier; with an emphasis on local supply chains and local market opportunities) contribute to inclusion, resilience and redistribution.

These could for example be papers or books that compare the social and economic benefits of more and less localised approaches to procurement, retail, business development, tax regimes, regeneration or measure the contribution of localised approaches to a deprived area.

Let us know if you have any useful suggestions!

We will of course be sharing the results on these pages as the project progresses.

Karen Leach