Mainstreaming Community Economic Development

 – Realising the potential of local economic power

Mainstreaming Community Economic Development is a major strand of LWM’s work that explores and supports an economic development approach that is based on making the most of local enterprise, existing business supply chains, networks, community assets and human potential.

See our new Localising Prosperity web resource pages for this project.

In the first of two MCED projects, research in 2012/2013 demonstrated the significant benefits of more locally-owned economies in creating successful, socially just and diverse places, and highlighted how a locally-focused approach can be fully integrated into conventional economic development.

Mainstreaming community economic development builds on an area’s existing strengths to maximise the local economic and social benefits for all, including:

  • Greater levels of social inclusion
  • Higher levels of local job creation particularly in peripheral and disadvantaged areas
  • Improved levels of resilience within the economy making it less vulnerable to change
  • A more integrated economy where partners from social, private and public sectors work together
  • Stronger local governance with more civic engagement
  • Better health outcomes
  • Protects local distinctiveness

Defining Mainstreaming Community Economic Development

Community economic development (CED) is about local people using local resources to enhance economic opportunities and social conditions in a sustainable way.

Mainstreaming community economic development is about embedding the principles of CED and good practice across public sector agencies in a way that delivers the benefits of CED through core, day-to-day business rather than as a “special initiative”.

The characteristics of mainstreaming community economic development  include:

  • Localising demand and supply chains and reconnecting people to the local economy through employment, enterprise and investment
  • Becoming more resilient – reducing the vulnerability of place to economic failure by minimising value extraction from the locality by strengthening existing businesses and encouraging local enterprise development
  • Resourcefulness – supporting local autonomy, self-determination and the development of local capacity across the private, public and social sectors which may be supported through opportunities for de-centralisation of powers
  • Investment in local financial institutions – to serve local economies by providing adequate availability of investment capital for enterprise and investment
  • Networks and networking – providing the opportunities for open networking and the sharing of ideas to encourage innovation, collaboration and business clustering
  • Social Capital – encouraging the development of strong bonding and linking capital to support local supply and demand chains.
  • Local ownership – recognising the value of local ownership and personal commitment both to the economy and to social inclusion
  • Public procurement – understanding the opportunity to local procurement to deliver social as well as economic value for local communities
  • A strategic approach – CED is fully integrated into the strategy and delivery of local public services through partnership working with the private and social sectors, use of local knowledge, assets and needs and the development of local trust.
  • Challenging and changing the way we think about the economic and social issues which impact upon people in our communities

In 2013 Localise West Midlands secured further funding from the Barrow Cadbury Trust to develop this work over a year, generating practical outcomes from the approach and building on their 2012-13 research findings in a number of ways:

  • Engage and discuss the opportunities of Mainstreaming Community Economic Development with project managers, policy makers and politicians
  • Develop an informal learning network of  practitioner to provide the opportunity for shared learning and wider implementation
  • Work with partners to mainstream community economic development by testing its feasibility and ease of implementation in the West Midlands
  • Monitor and evaluate the impact of the mainstreaming community economic development approach and the implications for future learning and implementation

This work includes case study research and practical work with organisations from the private, social and public sectors who are interested in using the MCED approach in their work to improve their local social and economic performance and to maximise the local economic benefits of their work. Reports from the work can be found here.

If you are interested in finding out more, please get in touch.



The excellent new Localising Prosperity webpages – guidance, case studies, checklists, the Virtuous Circle…

Localising Prosperity: Mainstreaming CED summary briefing (pdf)

A Case Studies & Practitioners’ guide to Mainstreaming CED 2014 (pdf)

MCED Localising Prosperity Ten Ideas (pdf)

The initial MCED Research page  outlines the social benefits  of locally-owned economies we identified, and how successes can be replicated and scaled up in mainstream economic development, and links to reports and briefings.