First of all we should reject the temptation to be entirely strategic.

Don’t try to analyse the economy like it is a game of monopoly where you can understand the roll of the dice, seeing and preparing for an uncertain future.  Don’t pretend that people and their aspirations count for nothing as you ponder the balance between investing in ports, ring-roads, runways or fibre.

Instead learn to compliment strategic development with a responsive approach.  One that engages residents in their hopes and aspirations for a better life and gives them the power and the responsibility to pursue them.  Put your faith and confidence in people.  Provide them with hope, leadership and support.

Dare to be relevant to people and not just ‘the business community’.

A city region of around 3m people like Leeds would require a network of around 75 coaches to provide access to person centred coaching support for everyone that really wanted it.

  • It would engage about 45 000 people in the process of providing direct hands on assistance to their peers.
  • It would provide direct assistance to about 16500 beneficiaries a year, the vast majority of whom would make significant progress in their personal journeys as a result of benefiting from a coaching rather than a coercive approach.
  • I would anticipate at least 750 sustainable business starts from this cohort every year.  I would envisage business survival rates around the 90% rate after 3 years.
  • It would make a very real difference to the perceptions of some 20 000 people a year about the extent to which they feel that they ‘belong to’ and ‘feel supported’ in their community.
  • In addition to traditional ‘enterprise’ outputs I would expect substantial impacts on health and well-being as well as increases in volunteering, cultural productivity, mental health, fitness and so forth.
  • It would help to integrate the dual priorities of economy and community rather than treating them as separate and often incompatible determinants.
  • Within 3-7 years I would expect it to have made a sustained and measurable difference to the enterprise culture in the city region.

And it would cost about £3.75 million a year.

The price of a very rich wo/man’s house.

NB this piece was prompted by reading ‘The Economic Opportunities and Challenges for the emerging Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) in Yorkshire and Humber – Briefing Paper‘.

As far as it goes this is an ok piece of work. Unremittingly strategic, focussing on communications, infrastructure development and targeting support at key industries – all tried, tested and largely at best partially successful ideas for economic development.  One of the ideas challenges it identified is to develop sufficient ‘low skill jobs’ for our low skill economies.   It talks about the structures required to ensure integration of LEP structures across the region.  One can almost here the creaking of bureaucracy…