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  • Roxy Piper

Investing in Our Place: An approach to resilient, thriving local economies

Since COVID19 appeared on the international scene we have explored in real time the vulnerability of international supply chains. The availability of everything from masks for social care staff to phone and computer parts for local councils, mutual aid groups, businesses and parents forced to home educate is subject to a hitherto unsuspected precarity.


But it is not only a pandemic which can interrupt our busy world economy. During the financial crisis too, when the springs of credit that grease the wheels of trade almost dried up, the world economy teetered on the edge of collapse.


Facing the resilience test during coronavirus, many communities have passed with flying colours. The same can’t be said of our supply chains for health equipment, food and other everyday necessities. Conventionally, our economy has traded diversity and resilience for short term efficiency; but the increased integration of local markets into the global economy may leave us exposed to greater risks, to the ebb and flow of global investment, bottlenecks in essential goods, financial and weather disturbances.


Evolved in other circumstance, to deal with depression and unemployment, the tradition of

Community Wealth Building offers many lessons which can help to insulate local economies from the vagaries of international upheavals, weather catastrophes and more. Community wealth building goes beyond offering secure incomes for local people and towards a prosperity that anchors us with an economy that is resilient to the kind of shocks we face beyond covid-19.


Why did the Basque country in Spain sustain employment and incomes during the financial crisis with hardly a decline, when the rest of the Spanish economy nosedived? How did the eviscerated economy of Preston, Lancashire, come to claim the greatest improvement in quality of life in Britain?


The New Prosperity Devon report on Community Wealth Building brings together vignettes and case studies illustrating how measures to support the local economy have improved well being and also resilience and sustainability. From the interlocking, mutually supporting co-operatives of Mondragon where employment is maintained through recession, to the Evergreen Co-ops of Cleveland Ohio relocalising essential services for institutions, to Preston’s business support and procurement for social value, there is much local authorities and communities can learn and adapt. With more examples from Liverpool, Lambeth, Devon and Barcelona, there is growing experience with measures to build a more resilient local economy with widely diffused prosperity, and to take us closer to a planet-friendly society. NPD’s report is a well-referenced introduction for anyone wishing to explore to these experiments and possibilities. New Prosperity Devon thinks that Community Wealth Building is an important piece to puzzle in the dialogue about how to #buildbackbetter.


Read new our report here 'Investing in our place: Social & environmental procurement and beyond'.

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