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What is Local Economic Development (LED)?

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The purpose of local economic development (LED) is to build up the economic capacity of a local area to improve its economic future and the quality of life for all.  It is a process by which public, business and nongovernmental sector partners work collectively to create better conditions for economic growth and employment generation.

Local economic development (LED) offers local government, the private and not-for-profit sectors, and local communities the opportunity to work together to improve the local economy.  It focuses on enhancing competitiveness, increasing sustainable growth and ensuring that growth is inclusive.  LED encompasses a range of disciplines including physical planning, economics and marketing.  It also incorporates many local government and private sector functions including environmental planning, business development, infrastructure provision, real estate development and finance. 


The practice of local economic development can be undertaken at different geographic scales.  A local government pursues LED strategies for the benefit of its jurisdiction, and individual communities and areas within a local government's jurisdiction can also pursue LED strategies to improve their economic competitiveness.  Such approaches are most successful if pursued in partnership with local government strategies.  LED is thus about communities continually improving their investment climate and business enabling environment to enhance their competitiveness, retain jobs and improve incomes.  Local communities respond to their LED needs in many ways, and a variety of approaches can be taken that include:

  • Ensuring that the local investment climate is functional for local businesses;
  • Supporting small and medium sized enterprises;
  • Encouraging the formation of new enterprises;
  • Attracting external investment (nationally and internationally);
  • Investing in physical (hard) infrastructure;
  • Investing in soft infrastructure (educational and workforce development, institutional support systems and regulatory issues);
  • Supporting the growth of particular clusters of businesses;
  • Targeting particular parts of the city for regeneration or growth (areas based initiatives);
  • Supporting informal and newly emerging businesses;
  • Targeting certain disadvantaged groups.


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