COMMUNITY WEALTH BUILDING

What is Community Wealth Building?

My interpretation of the big picture:

• Re-making our local economy, creating a strong, resilient community with trust-based relationships, local connections, individual community champions, reserves of human capital and volunteer effort.

• Working with “anchor institutions” with the aim of maximising local economic, environmental and social benefits from their spending on goods, works and services.

• “Clawing back” wealth with local import replacement and recycling of local income thereby stemming the leakage of revenue from the Hawkesbury.

Why care about Building Community Wealth?

• This is about the dignity and sense of worth of our local community; of their relevance; of their well-being and their productive and useful place in the economy.

• Creating a fairer and more sustainable economy that retains and builds wealth that adds social value from within.

• This is a practical agenda to address real, local economic stresses.

• This is a “bottom-up” approach

Why now?

• Our regions have been impacted by fires, floods and COVID-19.

• The way we live and do business needs to change

• It is time to build on the theme and strategy of “supporting local.”

• This is a people-centred approach to local economic development, placing greater control into the hands of local people and redirects wealth back into the local economy

• The timing is right

Background

The Preston Community Wealth Building (CWB)Story” in the UK is an example that our Local Government areas (LGA’s) could replicate. Preston City (an anchor institution) over four years redirected spending to local businesses. Local  spending increased from $38m to $111m, turning around the local social system and economy.

It is a people-centred approach to local economic development placing control into the hands of local people and redirecting wealth back into the local economy.

The Five linked Pillars of Community Wealth Building

  1. Socially virtuous procurement of goods and services by ‘anchor institutions’ e.g. hospitals, university, council, TAFE, RAAF, clubs, and large business
  2. Ensuring the employment practices and wages paid by anchor institutions and their suppliers are fair and provide opportunities for disadvantaged workers and communities
  3. Encouraging plural and democratic models of business ownership to build wealth that stays in local communities.
  4. Using the land and property of anchor institutions and public lands for positive community outcomes
  5. Harnessing wealth and savings for local community and economic benefits

To my knowledge, this hasn’t been attempted in any substantial way in Australia and would see this as a model for rural and semi-rural LGAs to adopt.

CWB is about collaboration and cooperation.

Bringing anchor institutions together in a collaborative group to co-ordinate the reduction of expenditure leakage from the local area. Also, introducing a common digital tender platform for local businesses results in many other initiatives being introduced eventually leading to the establishment of all the five pillars of CWB.

The more collaboration and expenditure by anchors and local business into their local area will enable more resources and personal support networks to develop.  In future flood and fires, these business and private networks are invaluable.

Generating and keeping employment local will potentially provide more volunteers to participate in local organisations and charities.  Locals won’t be spending hours travelling back and forwards to work, congesting roads and evacuation routes when leaving their local areas to find work.  They will be on hand to support their family and community in times of disasters.

CWB Project Rationale

Based on the success story in Preston, UK, this is a proven concept with available resources to help with implementation.  You are not re-inventing the wheel. There is a known long-term outcome.

Why should we expect or want this to work?

  1. LGA’s have unique localisms where locals want to support local business, production and consumption of goods.
  2. LGA’s have their own local culture and identity creating a lot of community pride
  3. Existing support, emulating from the “anchors” wanting to help their local communities.
  4. Local Business Chamber memberships have many “anchors”, local business leaders and good working relationships with both sides of our major political parties. We just have to collaborate and cooperate.
  5. Business Chambers and community Groups want to work collaboratively with the local Council and their economic development officer
  6. Most councils already have major projects (with community input) to improve town centres. This was an influencing factor in the CWB Preston model.
  7. Present communication and collaboration between anchors and local business finding out about work contracts is difficult.
  8. Regions has been impacted by drought, fires, flood and COVID-19
  9. Further floods and fires are expected.  Population growth and people moving out from the city will require more emergency volunteers and support networks.

Key Objectives

  1. To re-make our economy, creating a strong, resilient community with trust-based relationships, local connections, individual community champions, reserves of human capital and volunteer effort.
  2. This is about the dignity and sense of worth of our local community; of their relevance; of their well-being and their productive and useful place in the economy.
  3. This is a “bottom-up initiative” lead by HCCC.

“Socialising NOT localising our local economy.”

“Generative rather than an extractive economy.”

How to start implementing CWB

  1. Council undertakes a regional diagnostic/audit on CWB 5 pillars across their LGA
  2. Audit the spend and labour of the anchor institutions
  3. Create a collaborative Procurement Charter agreed by the anchors
  4. Create a Procurement Practitioners Group/entity
  5. Identifying the spends which are influential
  6. Modifying procurement practices to enable local, more socially virtuous purchasing
  7. Local suppliers to gain better access to tender contracts of majors
  8. Anchors to better expose locals to opportunities
  9. Digital tendering and information Platform introduced
  10. Anchors help locals to “gear-up” to compete, to deepen local supply chains
  11. Restoration of City Centres
  12. Public service contracts to have regard to CWB. To have a focus on the social good/value provided by local suppliers.
  13. Provide assistance for the development of employee-owned cooperatives.
  14. Ensure community owned assets are deployed for socially useful outcomes

Obviously there is a lot of detail and strategies around each of these objectives

Outputs

1. Creating a fairer and more sustainable economy that retains and builds wealth that adds social value from within.  To “clawback” wealth with local import replacement and recycling of local income.

2. Business groups working with “anchor institutions” with the aim of maximising local economic, environmental and social benefits from their spending on goods, works and services.

3. Stemming the leakage of income from the LGA

4. To deepen socially virtuous business development & investment, deliberately leveraging off expenditure to provide social and environmental practices and outcomes.

5. Creating a new economic policy

6. Reduce anchor institutions “spend leakage” out of the Hawkesbury region

7. Anchor institutions agreeing and collaborating on the way forward for HCWB and creating a collaborative “Procurement Charter”.

8. Create a Hawkesbury Procurement Practitioners Group Entity (The seven anchors)

9. CWB five pillars implemented into all anchor institutions creating a co-ordinated and cooperating approach across the Hawkesbury

10. Providing an easy way for local businesses to find and submit local anchor tenders

11. Local businesses encouraged and educated on procurement from anchor institutions

12. Common digital platform for business, e.g. Localised

13. Cooperatives being created to supply anchor institution needs.

14. Jobs being created

15. CWB philosophy adopted and practised by Hawkesbury City Council

16. Hawkesbury a model of CWB in Australia for other LGAs to follow.

How will outputs be communicated

• Local newspapers and electronic media

• Business events and social media

• Business Groups and anchor institutions various newsletters and social media

• Federal and State politicians newsletters and social media

How the project will improve community resilience in future natural disasters

• Improved social networks with anchors who have many resources in times of need

• More people living and working locally, will develop a better community spirit

Increasing community wealth in the local area will provide for more flood and fire mitigation strategies to be developed

Individual resources and assistance can be sought through their business and anchor networks 

Risks

Below are some notes taken from meetings with CLES, SGS, Preston City and Bendigo City economic planners:

• Each CWB location has different drivers and people who need identifying

• We need a political act to change mainstream economics

• Don’t wait for the Government

• Local authorities and anchors need to stop talking and being influenced by the big boys from out of town

• Old fashioned ideas of economic development based on globalisation are a barrier

• It is difficult changing the traditional business mentality of being married to mainstream thinking:

o Wealth and power

o Injustice of workers

o Purchasing of goods based on the lowest price

• Anchors need political will and push not procurement officers

• Learn to bend existing resources to CWB

• It’s about socialising not localising the economy

• We need to  move from transactions to relationships in the local economy

Initial Risks

1. Finding initial funding for surveys

2. Lack of decision making and delays by large anchors. e.g. Council and government anchors

3. Reluctance to collaborate between anchors

4. Resistance to collaborating and forming an Anchor Institutions Group or entity

5. Anchors reluctant to change or modify purchasing practices by middle managers

6. Resistance to rationalising the many local networks to one Digital Localised Tender Platform

7. Becomes over the years too big for the local business volunteers to oversee

8. Lack of resources long-term.

9. Unable to find a funded local ongoing committed champion/ administration person

Much of the initial facilitation will be done on a voluntary basis by business groups. Many of these business relationships are already established, enabling the speed to a realisation of CWB.

 

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