What Is Local Economic Development And Does It Matter?

Local economic development may not be an everyday topic of discussion but it does affect our everyday lives. It is a process that brings together the public, private and community and voluntary sectors to develop the local economy, attract investment and create jobs. Its core aim is to develop the capacity of an area and improve the lives of the people who live there.

The concept is based on the need for local communities to be aware of, and adapt to, local, national and international markets and opportunities.

The purpose is to develop the attractiveness of a region for investment and enable entrepreneurs and investors to start and grow businesses that create jobs.

The local economic development planning process helps build capacity, develop the skills base and identify local strengths and weaknesses.

The starting point lies in analysing the make-up of resources and assets of a region and identifying the particular economic, social, environmental and business challenges it faces.

The issues affecting a region’s economic attractiveness include the road infrastructure, land availability, energy supply, communications network, quality of health care, availability of people and skills and the education provision.

Even though the private sector generates the majority of wealth through the creation of products, services, jobs and the payment of taxes, local government is responsible for the local economic development process.

The process, although carried out by local government, should involve the public, private, community and voluntary sectors, not least to capture the collective knowledge and experience of all stakeholders. Ideally, the steps of the process include:

  • identifying a core working group of stakeholders
  • carrying out an assessment of the local economy
  • agreeing a vision, strategy and actions for the area
  • developing a project implementation action plan
  • agreeing a monitoring, evaluation and strategy review plan

Local economic development may seem a bureaucratic, slightly dull and laborious process but it is crucial, not least because it has the potential to affect the lives of so many people.

Given the continued effects of technology and globalisation, the development of local economies is vital and the communities that embrace the process will generate greater wealth and enjoy a better quality of life.

SO, local economic development is an important way to improve the lives of people: it matters today and will matter even more in tomorrow’s competitive world.

What do you think?

Does local economic development matter?

Look forward to seeing your comments below.