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°  What is LED?

°  How does LED work?

°  Why focus on MSMEs?

°  Canadian Case Study – Chemainus, British Columbia

 

What is LED?

Local Economic Development (LED) is a participatory process. Communities, civil society organizations and the private sector establish different forms of partnerships through the leadership of local governance authorities or local government. The partnerswork together to harness local resources, encourage investments and stimulate local commercial activities, particularly that of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises. These local commercial activities lead to gains in job creation, business development and ultimately quality of life for citizens.

 

Defining Characteristics of Economic Development

defled

Built on local dialogue, LED is about connecting people and their resources to enhance local opportunities and prosperity. LED is about a better quality of life for men and women in a sustainable future.

 

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How Does LED Work

Participatory Planning

Defining Characteristics of Economic Development

partplanning

 

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Why focus on MSMEs?

Job growth around the world is concentrated in micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs). Many  leaders view the growth of these types of enterprises as a key stimulant for overall economic development.   Governments  also recognize the power of micro, small and medium (MSME’s) sized enterprises as proven engines of local economic growth. MSME’s contribute up to 90% employment and 70% of GDP in middle-income Caribbean and Latin American countries, with an estimated 35-50% of micro and small entrepreneurs in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) being women.

 

MSME’s are often:

  • Locally based and owned
  • Users of local resources
  • Based on local and foreign demand
  • Local job creators
  • Valuable links within the community
  • As a sector, highly resistant to collapse

 

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Canadian Case Study

Chemainus, British Columbia, Canada

 

The story of Chemainus’ successful transition is a classic case study throughout Canada.

 

The early history of the Chemainus area is inextricably tied to forestry and the municipality was once home to the largest covered-in sawmill in North America. At its height the local mill directly employed 700 people in a community of 3000. As a one-industry town, the fortunes of Chemainus shifted up and down in concert with the forest industry and it wasn’t surprising when the mill was closed during a major industry downturn.

 

The mayor of Chemainus at the time realized that the town needed new ideas and energy to break the town out of its economic malaise. The mayor took immediate action by creating the Merchant’s Revitalization Committee for the downtown core. A number of ideas were put forward and considered. One of those ideas suggested the possibilities of tourism development by having large outdoor murals painted around the town as a theme to grow the sector. Initially this creative idea was rejected but eventually the initiative got the commitment from local stakeholders. Certainly not everyone in the community thought tourism was the solution, but the Cheminus Mural Project started anyway. It began with five murals and quickly grew to forty-two.

 

Today tourism is a year-round industry and Cheminus is known world-wide as the world’s largest outdoor art gallery with the community drawing approximately 400,000 visitors annually. While the murals attract the tourists, the economic influence of these visitors encouraged young people to migrate to Cheminus in search of work. In addition, older people began to consider the now picturesque town as a retirement destination.

 

The Cheminus of today has a population of 4,000 or 1000 more citizens than when it was a mill town. The City boasts an array of thriving cafes, restaurants, gift shops, antique stores, and arts and crafts galleries. Recently, a 270-seat theatre, which houses a drama school, opened. In all, more than 70 new businesses took root in the first fifteen years of Cheminus redevelopment.

 

Notable Lessons learnt:

  • The innovative and creative tourism idea came about as a consequence of broad and inclusive engagement of the community at large including private businesses
  • It required municipal commitment and a proactive, take-charge attitude

 

Local leadership and persistence were critical to success. It was the Mayor and his team who linked tourism with local economic prosperity, and saw murals as the vehicles to draw the tourists.

 

For more case studies on local economic development, visit www.fcm.ca or www.cariled.org/publications

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