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  • Writer's pictureDavid Marlow

Putting 2023 in perspective for local economic development - what does 2024 have in store?

Updated: Jan 24

In LEDC's first episode of 2024, we discuss our 2023 highlights, and the key issues that will be at the forefront of local economic development and placemaking in the coming months…

Fortune teller gazing into a crystal ball for 2024

What will 2023 be remembered for in local economic development and placemaking?

Will 2023 come to be seen as a breakthrough year in terms of popular consciousness? HS2 cancellation and the housing crisis were front page news. Devolution deals, however flawed, in England have been deepened and broadened across the country. From the ‘green growth’ controversies to the pervasive sense of a national government in crisis. The local in LED and placemaking is increasingly prominent in public awareness and seen as integral to problem-solving solutions. Can policy makers and practitioners meet these expectations?

But LED and placemaking today is fundamentally different to the orthodoxies of previous generations. Just as green agendas are now mainstream, David and Mike singled out inequality as the breakthrough topic of 2023. This is epitomised by the Danny Dorling episode being LEDCs most listened to last year. Are we up for and do we have the tools and techniques to bring genuinely inclusive growth and social value to fruition in our policies, programmes and projects?

What to look out for in 2024?

Major political transitions and severe financial challenges will be at the forefront of LED and placemaking in-trays going forward. With the likelihood of national and the certainty of metro-mayor and local authority elections, local and regional leadership teams need to be on top of their change agendas and priorities. Whether debating them with incoming politicians or pitching them to a new government, evidence-informed visions and strategies will be critical, and investment-ready programmes and projects necessary.

But, do we have the capacities and capabilities to deliver short and medium-term impact in the face of acute financial constraints? Can we do it in a way that makes tangible contributions to fixing broken dimensions of the UK system – over-centralisation, financial breakdowns, political polarisation; and concurrently to global challenges like net zero, demographic, and technological opportunity?

Reasons to be cheerful…

Notwithstanding what sometimes seems like overwhelming contemporary barriers to change, we also find inspiration and stimulation in so much of our work. David showcased his visit to Medellin late in 2023 – observing firsthand how a city can go from the “the most violent in the world” to the safest in Colombia in a generation – and how inclusive growth is a key ingredient in Medellin’s narrative and journey.

Closer to home, David and Mike’s work with Somerset Economic Futures illustrates how, even under the weight of challenges, places can use transition as a catalyst for economic refresh and reinvention, and the process of futures enquiry to build the social capital to deliver development and resilience.

Will LEDC2023 stand the test of time?

In 21 episodes, LEDC23 dealt with all these issues and much more.

Our ‘long conversations’ with guests include the big issues of the day – Inequality, Devolution, ‘Permacrisis’; the ‘how-tos’ of area-based initiatives and legacy from major investments; the institutional and partnership challenges of universities, business networks and LEP transition; new trends in data and intelligence; and insights into career development skills and aptitudes needed for the successful practitioner.

Current affairs episodes sought to discuss monthly highlights that spotlight how these big issues play out in practice, and the sometimes left-field sources of inspiration for planning and managing them.

Potentially there is a lot to revisit in LEDC 2023. We are grateful to our guests, to our producer, James Marriott, and most of all to you our listeners, for sticking with us on this journey.

We are proud of LEDC23, but we are determined to do even better this year. What do you want to hear more of, and indeed less of, in 2024? And what will stimulate you to get even more involved?

Do contribute to the 2024 conversation. What was your assessment of 2023 and forecasts for 2024?

We look forward to engaging with you…


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