Five steps to REconomy

Five steps to REconomy

Base building, dynamic planning, practical partnerships, place analysis and space creation!

These five steps encompass learning from three years of REconomy work across the UK. They are the building blocks to helping transform local economies from the bottom up.

Download our ‘Five Steps’ powerpoint presentation and tailor it to talk to your REconomy group about transforming your local economy.

1. Base building
Developing a mobilised and motivated “community of investors”

What we’ve learnt
Lone but highly enthusiastic agents who have tried to import community enterprise support models that have worked elsewhere have quickly run into trouble through personal burn-out, unsustainable activities, disengaged enterprises. Possibly the most important step in setting up any REconomy activity is to establish a group of supporters. In most cases this means establishing a core delivery team who will develop and drive progress. Perhaps at a later stage this may develop into a larger pool of engaged people who stay up to date with what you are doing and will turn out to support your work. We have found that in a lot of places small, initial events can be a good way of getting people together, building momentum, developing a vision and starting planning.

More people means access to more time and resources. Start simple with regular gatherings of a core REconomy group and expand later. Engage your core group through community events, social media activity, film screenings and thematic talks.

Find out more about resourcing yourselves.

2. Dynamic Planning
Developing shared vision of what change you want to see, setting priorities and creating a plan of how you are going to get there

What we’ve learnt
Groups typically start with a lot of enthusiasm which is often directed into putting on some sort of larger community event or campaign.  This is a really helpful way of bringing people together and getting the ball rolling, but in some cases motivation and progress comes to a stand-still after the initial event or activity is over (group burn-out). Having a dynamic plan with some sort of specific aims or goals in place can be a great way of keeping people motivated and with an eye on a bigger and evolving picture.

By planning a few steps ahead you can help keep momentum and turn ideas into action. Set your mission statement, local goals, community action plan and local manifesto.

Find out more about creating a shared vision and strategy

3. Practical partnerships
To increase access, expand reach, accelerate progress, provide resources and reduce barriers.

What we’ve learnt
The local economy involves lots of different players. If your goal is to transform the local economy it helps to have a broad range of partners engaged. It can be useful to think about what the benefits of stimulating this type of local economic activity might be to different people, and also consider the type of arguments or language different people might find compelling. Increasing money flowing in the economy, creating good quality employment and training opportunities, improving health and well-being are all things that are likely to have broad appeal. Although it is great if you can engage with partners early on when you are developing your strategy, some partners are likely to respond better when they have seen the benefits of your work.

Think carefully about what the other party wants and how they might benefit.  Be open minded and positive, the best allies can be found in unlikely places. Meet and make contact with people through events, meetings, forums, direct contact and social media.

Find out more about forming a Partnership Group.

4. Place analysis
Gaining a clear understanding of the opportunities, demand, gaps and obstacles in your area.

What we’ve learnt
Each context is different. For example in Rural Totnes initiatives struggled due to lack of physical incubator space, poor business services infrastructure and lack of investment. In urban Brixton the challenges were more about fighting with the noise of everything happening already and enabling start-ups to thrive in a busy and expensive context. In both cases it was important to understand the context (barriers and opportunities) before deciding and designing the type of enterprise support needed. In these cases the teams used the Economic Blueprint model to explore the local context. There are lots of different approaches to this. These exploration exercises are a great way of engaging stakeholders and partners who might have a joint interest in a vibrant local economy or local buying power (for example local Councillors, business leaders, major employers, educational establishments, service providers).  Bringing these partners into the process can help get early support for community-supported enterprise, and means that it can be easier later to secure their support and resources to help make things happen.

Analysing your area is as much about the journey and building relationships as the findings – the more collaborative and inclusive the better. Tools you might use are: Economic Blueprints, Stakeholder panels, Community Economic Development Plan, community summits.

Find out more about making your case for change.

5. Space creation
Providing physical and/or social spaces for sharing and developing ideas, resources, knowledge and projects

What we’ve learnt
The type of spaces needed varies from place to place. In rural Totnes there was no physical space for small enterprises to interact and this was hampering development. In busy Brixton there were lots of physical spaces to interact, but no dedicated time for people to come together. In Totnes the group worked with partners (who had been involved in developing their economic Blueprint) to open a REconomy Centre offering physical space for enterprises to work and meet. In Brixton the group worked in partnership with a local social-enterprise hub to initiate weekly Open Project Nights, a regular time where people could meet up and focus on REconomy issues and what was needed to move things forward in Brixton. In Totnes this created new collaboration and support networks between enterprises, in Brixton it has helped kick start and move forward a number of key initiatives including the Bank of Lambeth. It has also helped individual enterprises expand awareness and reach of their products and services with one initiative being invited to present at the V&A.

Create physical or social spaces for community. Entrepreneurial interaction can be a great catalyst of new projects and initiatives. Examples include Incubator Hubs, community work spaces, Open Project Nights, Local Economic Forums.