Projects & activities to help local enterprises thrive
These are projects and activities that support, or provide infrastructure for, new or existing businesses within your local economic system. Here are some mostly UK examples of economic enablers, most but not all from Transition, and covering a range of scales. A number of these are viable enterprises in their own right.
Events & awareness-raising
- Events that stimulate local entrepreneur interest e.g. Transition Town Totnes Local Entrepreneur Forum
- Events that invite local stakeholder level interest e.g. Transition Glastonbury Stakeholder Event
- Events aimed at raising awareness in a local council e.g. Sustaining Dunbar
- See listing of all REconomy related events here
- Plugging the Leaks workshop approach – simple application at Transition Town Brixton event and full NEF toolkit. Also see nef’s Re-imagine your High Street resources
- Jamaica Plain New Economy Transition (USA) – State of our Neighbourhood Forum annual event bringing together residents, council, businesses to discussed shared issues and opportunities
- Crystal Palace Transition’s Local and Fair Guide – a sustainable shopping and eating directory
- Transition Dorking Golden Ticket Day – innovative way to support local businesses and raising awareness
- Totally Locally – ‘more than a shop local campaign’ with free campaign guides and resources being used by some Transition groups
- Transition New Forest Food Challenge – events and challenge to support the local food economy
- Do you want to organise a local REconomy event? – here’s how we can help
Increase community ownership of land and other key assets
- Groups are becoming landowners, like Melbourne Area Transition, bringing 10 acres back into community ownership
- Transition Town Totnes & partners are turning a large brownfield site into a Transition-led live-work-leisure space
- Comrie Development Trust in Scotland are revitalising an old army camp for local business & community use
- Lots more examples and support are available via Locality’s Asset Transfer Unit
Build or strengthen local networks for mutual support and collaboration
- A Totnes project that’s linking local food businesses across the supply chain
- A South West based network of local action groups and councils building a sustainable energy future
Establish support, incubation and investment services for Transition-oriented enterprises
- REconomy Centre, Totnes, website just being built meanwhile read more about it here
- We just started a national REconomy pilot project to explore community-based support and investment for new enterprises – more info will be posted on this website as useful findings emerge
Explore the potential to develop or strengthen local supply chains
- A Totnes project that is looking at increasing local food supply, starting with local crops
- Linked to the development opportunities above, we can also explore and promote the use of local building materials
Offer relevant training and ‘make your own work’ programmes
- A Transition Network project called One year in Transition that’s piloting a way to help young people get working in the UK
- A different approach to help young people get the skills they need, from US based Transition Lab
- Edventure Frome, a scheme that supports young adults to take initiative and create viable, sustainable futures for themselves and their communities
Explore alternative banking and means of exchange
- We have a section on this website about Alternative means of exchange including:
- New local banking models are emerging like Robert Owen Community Banking (also in our top 20 enterprises)
Influence local public procurement policy in favour of local businesses
There’s quite a bit of activity in this area, though we haven’t yet come across any Transition groups directly involved in influencing local public sector spend. Meanwhile here’s a range of useful reports that might inspire you to begin…
- The benefits of directing public spend into local economies are beautifully highlighted in this FSB report which has great statistics about actual/potential impacts. Here’s a specific example for Manchester City Council with progress update (all reports by CLES) and another example in Preston.
- CLES uses a process to understand how public sector spend circulates (or not) in your local economy – based on nef’s LM3 model.
- Nottinghamshire County Council are focusing on promoting local micro-providers of health and social care
- The Welsh Assembly have done a lot to increase local public spend and benefits in the social housing sector, and toolkits are available.
- From the US, the Evergreen Co-operatives in Cleveland are leveraging a portion of the massive annual spend of anchor institutions into the surrounding businesses and neighbourhoods – here’s a related article from nef explaining some issues with the UK’s Social Value Bill.
What can help you start your own economic enabler project?
These projects, like all projects, need an aim, a clear scope, resources, a plan etc. However, we also know that ground breaking projects like these are more of an emerging process with a steep learning curve and things often change! So a balance of structure and openness to change is usually helpful.
If you need some help with setting up and running good projects, quite a few Transition groups have used the Dragon Dreaming approach to projects – workshops are run around Europe.
Many of these economic enabler projects can be quite large, involve local partners and need certain skills and resources to be in place. We are just developing a course that will help you resource your group for REconomy activity which should be available publicly mid-2014.
If your enabler project is large, or you want to do a number of these enablers in a strategic way, you might consider starting your own local REconomy Project that would co-ordinate several activities, work with partners and provide some leadership. We have developed a Primer to help you get started with these more significant projects.