Concentration of the retail and consumer services sectors in the hands of a limited number of multinational corporations sucks wealth out of local communities and into the hands of shareholders based elsewhere. So should the response be to build the local economy by supporting independent businesses based in those localities, while maximising the spend of public and other anchor institutions in their local communities?
That is the approach adopted through ‘community wealth building’, often termed ‘the Preston model’. Preston is a council in Lancashire, England, which is a member of the co-operative network of councils. It has become an exemplar for a localised approach to economic development, building on previous attempts to retain spending in local communities, such as the Local Exchange Trading System.
In the latest Holywell Trust Forward Together podcast interview, Neil McInroy of the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES) discusses the experience of Preston and other towns that have adopted community wealth building practices. He talks about whether that experience can be replicated in Northern Ireland and his work here in developing strategies to support local economic development. He is strongly committed to bottom up, rather than top down, approaches – building local skills and initiatives, rather than relying on inward investment.
The interview can be heard here. Further information on community wealth building is available on the CLES website. This is one of a series of conversations about what can be learnt from best practice in community and economic development elsewhere.
The Holywell Trust Forward Together podcasts are funded by the Community Relations Council’s Media Grant Scheme.
Disclaimer: This project has received support from the Northern Ireland Community Relations Council which aims to promote a pluralist society characterised by equity, respect for diversity, and recognition of interdependence. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the Community Relations Council.
Paul Gosling is editor of ‘Lessons from the Troubles and an Unsettled Peace’, author of ‘A New Ireland’ and ‘The Fall of the Ethical Bank’ and co-author of ‘Abuse of Trust’, the story of a child abuse scandal in Leicestershire. He is engaged by the Holywell Trust charity on peace and reconciliation projects and is Parliamentary Assistant to Sinead McLaughlin MLA, the SDLP’s economy spokesperson.