Community Economic Development

What is Community Economic Development?

Community Economic Development (CED) gives people the opportunity to meaningfully shape the economy where they live. It enables those living, working and doing business in an area to work together to develop an economy that better supports their shared aspirations.

It’s a process designed to create positive local economic, social and environmental benefits. It can be initiated by local or national organisations in partnership with local government, communities and businesses. By meaningfully engaging communities in decision-making, CED can be used to deliver collaborative initiatives such as:

  • Regeneration projects and inclusive growth strategies
  • Neighbourhood planning
  • Regional and local economic development strategies
  • Community wealth building activity, such as contracting local businesses and people

Why is CED effective for co-op development?

Examples show that CED increases local ownership and control of assets and enterprise in an area. That’s where co-ops – owned and controlled by their members – play an important part.

At Co-operatives UK, we offer support to grow ‘Co-operative Places’. We believe that mutuals – worker owned co-ops, consumer co-ops, community businesses, credit unions and building societies – have a positive social impact on communities and help create wealth for people in those communities.

The CED process empowers local communities and increases ‘social capital’ – the networks of people within an area that enable the community to function effectively. Building social capital creates the conditions that allow mutuals to thrive. And networks of thriving mutuals can tackle issues of insecure work, pay inequity, well-being inequality and economic disempowerment.

What does CED look like?

CED is best understood when it’s put into action. Examples include:

  • In West Dorset, rural communities have created new food enterprises.
  • In Haringey in North London, money and jobs are being saved through a co-operative programme on energy efficiency.
  • In Preston, the local authority, police and health services are identifying where they can place local contracts.
  • In Bristol, growing numbers of people have joined the local credit union for local savings and a currency that can be cashed with local enterprises.
  • In the Black Country, a loan fund supports local businesses turned down by high street banks to survive and thrive.
  • In Eastbourne, fishermen are working with their local community to sustain local small-scale fishing and tourism.

How could CED support your work?

We offer expertise to community organisations, local governments and business networks focused on local wealth building, co-op development and engaging communities in economic development. Recent work includes:

  • Providing local economic insights and mapping to identify opportunities to apply CED and co-op development.
  • Creation of strategies for co-op development that link in with local wealth building.
  • Supporting networks to create CED partnerships and plans.
  • Providing evidence to support the implementation of CED and the co-op business model in local areas.
  • Identifying local needs and market gaps that can be filled by creating co-ops.