Small municipalities don’t need top heavy economic development programs or hefty strategic planning documents on the shelf - they need to rally the community and develop bold strategies to ignite community-led economic development.
As a former town councillor, I know the tight financial constraints that most elected officials and administrators feel, especially during times when everyone is doing a lot of belt tightening. The good news is that there is a cost-efficient way of championing economic development that is financially sustainable, and more effective at achieving long-term sustainable results - it’s called Community Economic Development (CED).
Now, I know that most people don’t distinguish between economic development and community economic development, but the difference is crucial to those who practice CED. Where economic development tends to be top down, government-led and paid for by tax dollars, CED is community-led by locally owned businesses, organizations, entrepreneurs, neighbourhoods, and volunteers.
With the right strategic support governments can move away from top down, race to the bottom, investment attraction approaches that don’t work - and start catalyzing sustainable economic growth that achieves the outcomes local stakeholders are committed to. So, in tough times when community leaders are starting to wonder what they can do to help the local economy why not break from tradition, and go from Zero to 60 with the community in the drivers seat?