Community economic development (CED) is where local people in a community identify issues of concern in their area and take action with the aim of improving their economic opportunities and local environment in a sustainable and responsible way.
Although much CED is seen to be ‘bottom up’ and formulated amongst the grassroots in a community, there are various different models of CED each with their own approach, methodologies and all seeking different outcomes depending on the needs of an area. Often the aim being to create sustainable employment opportunities and trying to ensure as much as possible that the economic wealth which is created in a local area remains within the community.
One of the advantages of having a CED plan is that it can make communities much more resilient against outside economic forces, such as a major international manufacturing plant moving from the local area. Ensuring that there is a diverse workforce and employment opportunities among small and medium size companies (SMEs) makes it for communities to weather these economic storms as they are not reliant on one source and have a wide variety of local supply chains.
That being said there are also opportunities to use the economic strength of a local large employer to further CED by tapping into their procurement needs and also by exploiting their technical knowledge to empower the local community.
Although not widely known or used about in Britain there are places where they are well established, for instance in Canada and the USA. But with people increasingly aware of the need to protect and enhance their communities and environment, this move towards localism is becoming increasingly popular and recognised as a way out of the control of a ‘top down’ system and for communities to be empowered to make decisions which affect them locally.