What is Community Economic Development?

Written By Allison Smith, Thrive

Lately there has been a lot of buzz about Community Economic Development (CED) across Canada. Urban and rural communities across the nation are including CED as a poverty reduction strategy at the Municipal and Provincial level. Some call it Local Economic Development or Neighbourhood Economic Development. Others are engaging in CED and don’t even know it. So what is CED? This post will briefly define CED and its’ outcomes.

Simply put, CED is locally motivated actions that create economic opportunities and better social conditions in the community that are both sustainable and inclusive. It is a bottom up economic development approach that focuses on inclusion and providing opportunities for marginalized individuals to participate in the economy. In addition, it encourages local businesses to operate with a triple bottom-line approach ie: economic, social and environment. CED understands that social, economic and environmental challenges are interconnected, dynamic and ever-changing. These challenges can include poverty, homelessness, underemployment, environmental degradation, inadequate childcare and gaps in social inclusion.

One of the key words in the definition of CED is: action. In society we often talk about ways to improve our communities and the lives of disadvantaged individuals. Alternatively, we’ll take short-term actions such as providing shelter or donating money and food. Although our intentions are good natured, these are short term “band-aid reactions”, that don’t address the root issues. CED  actions are focused on creating economic opportunities that help ensure disadvantage individuals lift themselves out of poverty, are able to tackle everyday challenges and have financially secure futures.  It’s the focus on long-term, sustainable actions that really makes CED an effective strategy for poverty reduction. CED actions are varied, and can include:

  • Skill building opportunities
  • Community capacity building
  • Financial education & empowerment
  • Mirco-lending
  • Enterprise development
  • Increased living-wage jobs

CED recognizes that each community is different – with different social and economic challenges. Therefore to build a strong and sustainable economy, CED leverages the unique resources and knowledge from the community to capitalize on local opportunities. CED is founded in the principles that problems facing society need to be tackled in a holistic and participatory way. Therefore actions are locally motivated, meaning that the community has a significant input in the planning and implementation of the actions. This also ensures that actions are sustainable, since no third party is dictating what can and cannot happen. CED actions  are people powered and are taken by community residents, stakeholders, organizations and key champions that have a vested interest in improving the lives of individuals in their community. CED encourages community members to truly take charge of their future!

CED has a lot of positive individual, community, environmental and economic outcomes. Some of these outcomes include:

  • Helps individuals fulfill their potential
  • Creates meaningful jobs
  • Economic equality
  • Social inclusion
  • Creates economic resiliency
  • Enhances local economy
  • Keeps decision making local
  • Community revitalization
  • Environmental stewardship
  • Neighborhoods transform into stable and attractive places to live, work and play

Overall, CED is a strong tool to help build sustainable, inclusive and thriving local economies. It results in a more united, engaged and resilient community that can tackle social and economic challenges.

To learn more about CED in Canada visit: http://ccednet-rcdec.ca/en

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