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Community Wealth Building


The purpose of this paper is to provide an introduction to the Community Wealth Building approach for economic development. This paper covers what Community Wealth Building is, why it is of value and  shares a few case studies of local and international Community Wealth Building initiatives. It concludes with a discussion about how it could be applied further in New Zealand, with specific reference to Eastern Porirua. 

This paper has been commissioned by Kāinga Ora to support the Eastern Porirua Regeneration Programme strategy, namely to facilitate the establishment of the working group that will support the implementation of Community Wealth Building across the regeneration programme.

What is it?

“Community wealth building is about creating a fairer, more socially just economy. It is practical action, framed by progressive concepts.” 

- Centre for Local Economic Strategies UK, September 2019

Community Wealth Building (CWB) works to fight economic inequality with transformative, inclusive solutions to return wealth to individuals, families and community-based organisations (Democracy Collaborative, 2020). It is a people-centred approach to local economic development which reorganises local economies to be fairer, prevents wealth flowing out of communities and instead places control of this wealth into the hands of local people, communities, businesses and organisations (CLES, 2020). Community Wealth Building solutions for community economic development, include restoring local banks, broadening local ownership and refocusing public and private resources (Democracy Collaborative, 2020). These activities have the potential to assist with ending intergenerational poverty and creating high-quality jobs that enable local workers to support their families while stabilizing their communities and environments. 

North American research from Baird, Katz, Lee & Palmer (2019) highlights how many of the impoverished or declining neighbourhoods still have tremendous assets and unrealised opportunities that can support Community Wealth Building. Each neighbourhood has distinctive qualities and characteristics, good ‘bones’ of infrastructure such as road networks, street grids and historic properties that can be leveraged through Community Wealth Building as well as established Anchor Institutions (Baird et al., 2019). This too is true for many of New Zealand’s regional and sub-city regions. Even where there is poor infrastructure, which is common, there remains a solid foundation in community pride, strong social connections and large amounts of land in public ownership that, if transferred to the community with the adequate support, can form the basis of a Community Wealth Building approach, where residents can stay in their community through a period of change, by being involved in the process of economic development and benefiting from the investment made by the public sector. In essence, it facilitates the reverse of gentrification, mitigating the effects of major investment by spreading it among the community and involving local people in the economic development process. 

Over the past 30 years, the Community Wealth Building field has developed a broad range of models and innovations, including – various forms of cooperatives, employee-owned companies, social enterprise, land trusts, municipal enterprise, community development financial institutions, community banks, and more. These structures and models are part of a growing ecosystem that aim to improving the ability of communities and individuals to (Democracy Collaborative, 2020): 

  1. Increase asset ownership; 
  2. Anchor jobs locally by broadening ownership over capital; 
  3. Help achieve key environmental goals (including decreasing carbon emissions); 
  4. Expand the provision of public services by strengthening the municipal tax base; and 
  5. Ensure local economic stability. 
Study Tour 2019, Manchester, United Kingdom

Fundamental Principles of Community Wealth Building 

One key goal of Community Wealth Building is to create an inclusive economy, with living wage jobs for local residents to provide all families and households with economic security. This is achieved with a place-based approach to economic development. By linking employers with workers, and supporting workforce development, Community Wealth Building works to develop under-utilised local assets across the board and create local jobs for the benefit of local residents (Kelly & McKinley, 2015). Workforce training and development is focused on creating and finding jobs for those with barriers to employment. Instead of trusting in ‘trickle-down’ economics, Community Wealth Building tackles wealth inequality square-on. Supportive institutions and systems are often developed to support this new norm of job creation and localised economic development, specifically powerful Anchor Institutions function to promote local, broad-based ownership of the economy and meaningful employment.

What are Anchor Institutions? Anchor Institutions are major quasi-public locally-based institutions such as local authorities, hospitals, universities, community foundations and sometimes large local businesses which have power to influence and drive how resources are applied to support equitable economic development. CLES describe Anchor Institutions as “organisations which have an important presence in a place, usually by virtue of being large scale employers, the largest purchasers of goods and services in the locality, overseeing large areas of land and having relatively fixed assets” (2015, p. 10). Crucially, Anchor Institutions are often tied to a place by their mission, histories, physical assets and local relationships (CLES, 2020). They have a large influence over life in their communities. Guided by Community Wealth Building principles, Anchor Institutions can play a defining role in creating and reinforcing local economic ties: implementing buy-local strategies to purchase goods and services from worker cooperatives, and investing patient capital in local non-profit organisations, to keep money circulating locally (Kelly & McKinley, 2015).

The Community Wealth Building model is also built on partnerships and collaboration between various city stakeholders from foundations, anchor Institutions, unions and community organisations to progressive business networks, workers and community residents. In contrast to traditional economic development, where the demands of business drive the economic development approach, Community Wealth Building creates a ‘power shift’ by bringing community to the table alongside government and business, to demand accountability, good jobs and community benefits. The combined force of these collaborative partners can create momentous change to local economies. 

Community Wealth Building strategies are usually financed through partnerships of foundations, local banks, Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI), which contribute funding into municipal loan funds. From there, municipalities make equity investments in their communities and introduce responsible banking policies (Kelly & McKinley, 2015). For example, cities can partner with others to deliver equitable land development such as community land trusts for housing.

The Community Wealth Building model employs a systems approach, bringing partners and sectors together to build an inclusive, sustainable economy where everyone can thrive. It requires the work of many hands, built and supported by a range of stakeholders who share the vision to create a good local economy (CLES & PCC, 2019). It offers a regenerative framework for economic development, a welcome response to the clear limits of our existing economic and social systems. 

A regenerative approach means: 

  • Prioritising environmental and social wellbeing
  • Viewing wealth holistically, including but not limited to financial wealth
  • Empowering local communities and local government to create and retain wealth

The framework for Community Wealth Building covers five areas (CLES & PCC, 2019, p. 8-9) (Figure 1)

Figure 1. The Five Principles of Community Wealth Building

Why do we need it?

“Traditionally, economic development involves two players: the city and the business community... The balance of power shifts when the community comes to the table demanding accountability, good jobs, and community benefits. In a potentially momentous shift, Community Wealth Building brings a powerful “third force” to the table, in the combined, collaborative force of anchor institutions, resident groups, philanthropy, non-profits, workers, unions, and locally owned businesses.”

- Democracy Collaborative, 2015

Traditional developer-led regeneration and economic development is failing to address present economic challenges and delivery for local people (CLES, 2020). Community Wealth Building offers a counter approach to the standard economic modelling approach that has controlled fiscal decision making, and instead invites developers, city managers, mayors, and other caretakers of local economies to think differently. It places control and benefits into the hands of local people, redirecting wealth back into the local economy (CLES, 2020). We have seen decades of data-focused urban economic development which seeks to understand developable space, transport demand, employment exports, metrics of amenity space, cultural spaces and housing supply; but, the richness of what people and communities bring to the table and benefit from are lost in the gathering of this data and the ‘at any cost’ economic-growth mindset (Kelly & McKinley, 2015). This approach has tended to perpetuate patterns of wealth inequality, attracting investment and development in some areas while ignoring other areas (Ibid.). The assumption that wealth will ‘trickle down’ from inward investment and that everyone will benefit from prosperity and economic growth is not true (CLES & PCC, 2019). For example, strategies which prioritise town centre development or attract big businesses to boost employment and economic growth are failing to reach many of the communities most in need of economic opportunity (Ibid.). 

Communities employing Community Wealth Building strategies have benefited from this alternative economic development approach, and the proof is easily measured. In Preston, the Community Wealth Building model had significant direct impacts (CLES & Preston City Council, 2019):

  • £74m redirected back into the local economy through procurement
  • £200m invested in the wider (regional) Lancashire economy
  • 4000 extra employees receiving the Real Living Wage
  • Reduction in unemployment from 6.5% in 2014 to 3.1% in 2017 (Compared to 2017 UK average of 4.6%)

It was also reported that by encouraging anchor institutions to spend their money locally and socially, Community Wealth Building has (CLES & PCC, 2019):

  • Developed the skills of local people
  • Created stable, well-paying jobs
  • Reduced levels of in-work poverty
  • Kept money circulating in the local economy
  • Realised good local economies for people and place

How might local economies in New Zealand cities be different, if we stopped focusing on data and complex economic models and instead, focused on people and community? Namely, what does a wellbeing approach to economic development look like?

How is CWB being applied?

The Preston Model

Preston in Lancashire adopted a Community Wealth Building approach in response to the economic situation in the Preston area in the 2000s. Preston had many economic and social issues common to declining deindustrialised cities, including stagnating population growth and retail floor space, poor quality housing, unemployment, child poverty, urban decay, rough sleepers, and the highest suicide rate in England (CLES & PCC, 2019; Shaefer, 2018). The recession following the global financial crisis also brought a fatal blow to a proposed £700m mega-mall development, to be delivered by one of the world’s largest developers, that was planned to revive Preston (Ibid.). But this proved to be a turning point, where everything changed for Preston, for the better.

In 2011, Preston City Council (PCC) adopted a “guerilla localism” strategy for tackling their economic challenges: keeping money in the local economy as much as possible to boost local spending, growing local business and establishing worker-owned cooperatives. Working closely with the mancunian thinktank, The Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES), PCC entered into an official strategic partnership to reform the city’s public procurement processes by “harnessing the potential of public institutions” (CLES & PCC, 2019, p. 22). 

This work was inspired by successful cooperative economies in Mondragón, Spain and Bologna, Italy. On paper, CLES modelled Preston’s reform on a model of Community Wealth Building previously developed in the American city of Cleveland, Ohio, by The Democracy Collaborative (CLES, 2015). Modelling the power of collective methods of economic development, Preston has demonstrated that reliance on external investment is not the only way to support local economies (Ibid). Due to its success, this approach is now widely referred to as the ‘Preston Model’ and has inspired a wave of local authorities across the UK to take similar action (CLES & PCC, 2019).

PCC functions as the ‘place leader’ for the city, promoting the concept of Community Wealth Building to other Anchor Institutions in and around Preston and to the private sector. Working with CLES, PCC persuaded six public bodies to commit to implementing the Community Wealth Building strategy, including spending locally wherever possible, including:

  • Lancashire County Council
  • University of Central Lancashire
  • Preston's College
  • Cardinal Newman College
  • Community Gateway Housing Association
  • Lancashire Constabulary

CLES chief executive Neil McInroy presented this to anchor institutions as common-sense: while it defies conventional procurement strategies, “it’s practical. You say to the housing association, ‘How would you like to do more for your residents so they’ll be better off and pay their rent on time?’”(Chakrabortty, 2018). Indeed, it has taken time for the local business and local tenders to adjust to working this way. But investing locally has continued to reap rewards, with more work for local businesses and local residents. 

In 2012, Preston declared itself the first living wage employer in the north of England and later PCC established a credit union to take on the loan shops (CLES & PCC, 2019). CLES analysis in 2013 identified a £450m leakage out of the Lancashire economy from Anchor Institutions (of a £750m spend), and only a 5% spend in Preston (ibid.). From there PCC started working with CLES to apply Community Wealth Building principles in Preston. The focus of this work was on influencing local spend. An example is how Lancashire county council put a contract to provide school meals out to tender. Officials shaped the market to fit their society, breaking the impossibly large contract into manageable chunks, with hugely successful results. Local Lancashire suppliers won every contract, boosting the local economy by £2m (Chakrabortty, 2018). Whenever the local economy was unable to supply the goods and services needed by Anchor Institutions, CLES and PCC advocated for the creation of worker-owned co-operatives. These were meant to fill the gaps in the local economy, where the local economy was as yet unable to deliver the requested goods and services.

More recently, in 2018, the planned renovation of the central covered market was completed, led by a local family-owned developer who employed local contractors. In this project, the Community Wealth Building approach supported job growth and enabled more apprenticeships and jobs for local workers. In 2017, CLES reanalysed anchor institution spending, since 2013, revealing that spend in Preston economy had increased from £38m to £111m (CLES & PCC, 2019).
The policy approaches and models that make up the Preston Model form a collection of strategies which aim to make it more difficult for local financial resources to ‘leak out’ of the local economy. They aim to leverage procurement rules and investments from anchor institutions to benefit the community. In order to achieve these community benefits, the Preston Model of Community Wealth Building aims to (Democracy Collaborative, 2020):

  • Increase asset ownership;
  • Anchor jobs locally by broadening ownership over capital;
  • Help achieve key environmental goals;
  • Expand the provision of public services by strengthening the municipal tax base, and;
  • Ensure local economic stability.

Within a few years of changing the local procurement processes in Preston, the city has become a model for how local economies in the UK can generate their own wealth. In times of austerity measures and budget cuts by local authorities of up to 56 percent, the Preston Model has flourished (CLES & PCC, 2019). During the 2016 UK general election, Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Party leader, praised it as a model town for economic development, and other Labour MPs began to endorse the model.

“Together, we have built relationships with the city's anchor institutions, poured over procurement data and done the hard work of knitting a new economic approach against the grain of much conventional thinking on economic development.”

- Councillor Matthew Brown, Preston City Council

Study Tour 2019, Leeds, United Kingdom

The Kāinga Ora study tour with The Urban Advisory in October 2019 met with Matthew Brown from Preston City Council and Neil McIlroy from CLES. Discussions and a tour of projects in Preston provided some insights about the Preston Model for Community Wealth Building:

  • For the framework to be delivered, it was essential to have an organisation that is responsible for having a broker and align function to orchestrate and coordinate deliverables.
  • Major partnerships with organisations such as the Pension Fund and the Sovereign Wealth Fund provided a diversified financing pool.
  • The diversity of ownership models was a key driver, and supported the goal of ‘building a democratic economy where local people are in control’.
  • Three key steps included (1) building awareness and getting people to understand the framework and its value, (2) facilitating or incubating existing and new businesses, and (3) finding key partners (anchor institutions).
  • There are dedicated organisations established and funded by the Council to build capability and capacity in the cooperative business sector. 
  • Establish a network of people who have knowledge and expertise in the area to meet regularly, and embed champions within the relevant organization and local and central government level.
  • The way in which affordable housing is changing; the definition of affordable housing is broad, the permanent rental sector is growing, the role of not-for-profit developers is increasing and the public sector is investing in them (through low interest loans and grant funding), as well as infrastructure to support the community-led housing sector.
  • There is a greater degree of partnership occurring between the sectors, and interventions such as land swaps, funding for infrastructure, and the adoption of a ‘sign-posting’ mentality to direct people to the relevant organisations than that can assist with funding other support.
  • Early engagement with the market has been critical; market sounding, and defining the parameters of what the city needs to be achieved gives the private sector the confidence to engage, and invest; opportunities for the private sector to make money are allowed while preserving some profit to be reinvested back into the city – “invest, support, or evolve”. 
  • Identify and monitor appropriate impact measures, e.g. amount of Council spending occurring locally.

The Clevedon Model

Similar to Preston, at the turn of the 21st century, neighbourhoods around University Circle in Cleveland had some of the highest foreclosure and unemployment rates in the United States, with poor retail, services and public amenities (Song, 2014). The weakened social and spatial fabric of these inner city neighbourhoods was the product of economic globalisation and capital flight, post-war renewals, highway and road construction, suburbanisation and changing federal and municipal strategies from neighbourhood improvement to incentives and subsidies to attract private investment (Ibid.).  As a result of these economic development approaches, these communities experienced more income and wealth inequality, social insecurity and spatial inequalities around development and investment.

Cleveland’s response to this situation was a Community Wealth Building. The Community Wealth Building approach implemented in Cleveland has been so successful that it is widely referred to as the ‘Cleveland Model’ and has been adapted in cities worldwide - including Preston - to support inclusive economic development, green job creation and neighbourhood stabilisation. The Cleveland Model was and is being implemented through a partnership between the Cleveland Foundation, the Ohio Employee Ownership Centre, the City of Cleveland and major hospitals and universities in the city, supported by the Democracy Collaborative. Collectively, they are implementing a new model of large-scale worker-owned and community-benefiting businesses. 

The Democracy Collaborative is a non-profit, founded in 2000, that offers a range of advisory, research, policy development, and field-building activities to support on-the-ground practitioners with Community Wealth Building. They are a national leader in equitable, inclusive, and sustainable development, working to shift the majority mandate of economic development—and of the economy as a whole—toward a new system that is place-based, inclusive, collaborative, and ecologically sustainable (Democracy Collaborative, 2020). 

They work in partnership with the Cleveland Foundation, the Ohio Employee Ownership Center, the City of Cleveland, and the city's major hospitals and universities to implement large-scale worker-owned and community-benefiting cooperative businesses. The Evergreen Cooperatives of Cleveland have become a global innovation model for creating more sustainable regional economies. Local residents earn an ownership stake as they create thriving businesses, while playing a transformational role in building vibrant neighbourhoods. We proudly partner with University Circle anchor institutions, helping create green jobs and driving economic stability in nearby low-wealth communities. Cooperatives include: 

  • Evergreen Energy Solutions 
  • Green City Growers
  • Evergreen Cooperative Laundry
Figure 2. The Cleveland Model (Democracy Collaborative, 2020)

The Kāinga Ora study tour with The Urban Advisory in October 2019 spent a day in Cleveland with Jessica Rose of the Democracy Collaborative. This included a meeting with the CEO John McMicken and a tour of two Evergreen Cooperative sites. Key insights from this day were:

  • A large part of the success of this model has been the not-for-profit organisation that sits behind the co-ops and has a management services agreement with each of them. This governance and management layer funds management teams with specific subject matter expertise to support the co-op management. They run the training programmes for the co-op leaders, including: job-specific training, supervisor and conflict training, communications training, and financial training. These services support the workers who own and manage their cooperative to have the right skills training to support their success.
  • They describe their approach to delivering cooperatives as a “place-based strategy”, designed to have a long-term impact on neighbourhoods. They are, therefore, examples of how economic strategy and design strategy must intersect when taking an outcome-focused approach to regeneration.
  • A ‘jobs first, homes second’ mission has helped to create more opportunities for their workers to be in a position where they can sustainably support paying their mortgages and working towards responsible home ownership.
  • These cooperatives are also supported by the city, through support with accessing capital; this made a significant difference to the viability of these models when in their initial inception phase.

The Southern Initiative

In 2018, The Southern Initiative (TSI) was established through the Auckland Plan 2050 to help address some of South Auckland’s most pressing social and economic challenges. TSI works to champion and enable social innovation, including experimenting, learning and delivering real socio-economic transformation. Its central philosophy is strengths-based and whānau-centric, working with whānau, local social change agents, grassroots entrepreneurs, businesses, agencies and a number of organisations.

“Supporting a prosperous, resilient South Auckland where tamariki and whānau thrive.”

- The Southern Initiative

Its vision statement is supported by four operational pillars, that outline what they do, which include; ‘growing capability and capacity’, ‘prototyping and demonstrating’, ‘leveraging, influencing and inventivising’, and ‘joining up and connecting’.

The key focus areas of TSI include:

  • Shared Prosperity: Demonstrating inclusive, just, circular and regenerative economic development where prosperity is shared.
  • Innovation and Technology: Connecting Māori and Pacific rangatahi to innovation pathways that are future-focussed.
  • Tamariki Wellbeing: Enabling whānau centred approaches to counter prolonged cumulative stress and partner with whānau, for whānau led local initiatives.
  • Healthy Infrastructure and Environments: Reinvestment in environment, home and community infrastructure that helps grow and restore mauri, safety, security, health and wellbeing.

The Southern Initiative also established the Auckland Co-design Lab, which focuses on capacity building and practice development among central government agencies and Auckland Council (local government). 

TSI was developed in light of the recognition that business-as-usual practices in both the public and private sectors were not bringing about the changes needed at the pace required. In short, South Aucklanders had not shared in Auckland's economic growth and prosperity. Similar to the international model of Community Wealth Building, TSI is a place-based initiative that takes an integrated and inclusive approach to social and economic development. In this way, TSI seeks to transform South Auckland. TSI “enables local Māori and Pasifika businesses to gain access to local government and corporate supply chains that will have massive benefits for years to come. It is just one example of the unique opportunity TSI has to broker connections and collaborate with the community to unlock the region’s enormous potential” (2018, p. 3). 

For example, TSI has been involved in the establishment of He Waka Eke Noa - New Zealand’s first supplier diversity model. He Waka Eke Noa connects Māori and Pasifika-owned businesses with government and corporate clients and buyers wanting to purchase goods, services and works (HWEN, 2020). It exists to intentionally create opportunities for those disadvantaged in the labour market, including training, qualifications, sponsorship, pastoral care, mentoring and support for a range of ‘second chancers’ and others struggling to adapt to the workforce.

“He waka eke noa”
“A canoe we are all in with no exceptions.”

- Māori proverb

TSI holds a crucial point of difference, that reflects the New Zealand context: it provides space for, and reconnection to the innovation inherent in mātauranga (Māori knowledge) and indigenous knowledge systems. This work seeks to build capacity and create room for more whānau-centric approaches, including co-design, family and community-led local initiatives that support alignment with the aspirations and outcomes of South Aucklanders. To further this integrated approach, TSI works as a broker, facilitator and translator communicating across different worlds. 

Te Haa o Manukau

In 2018, a new innovation hub and co-working space - Te Haa o Manukau - opened in the heart of the Manukau CBD. Te Haa o Manukau is about furthering South Auckland’s standing as the creative capital of Aotearoa, helping to grow entrepreneurial ventures and prepare young South Aucklanders to navigate the future of work. Manurewa High School, New Zealand’s largest decile 1 secondary school, also now has a co-designed MakerSpace which exists to support rangatahi into tech entrepreneurship through developing their leadership, creativity, problem solving and risk-taking skills.

Further Application in New Zealand

“Ki te kōtahi te kākaho ka whati, ki te kāpuia, e kore e whati.”
“If there is but one stem of a reed it will break, but if they are in a bundle they will never break.”

- Kingi Tāwhiao

We can see from Preston and Cleveland how the Community Wealth Building approach to economic development had been successfully applied. These cities present a ‘proof of concept’ of how it works in practice and has the capacity to “achieve a meaningful transfer of wealth and power back to local communities” (CLEs & PCC, 2019, p. 22).

In the New Zealand context, we see the potential for Community Wealth Building models to facilitate and balance ecological, cultural, social and economic outcomes for community wellbeing in line with the Treasury Living Standards Framework. More importantly, there is significant alignment between a Community Wealth Building framework and a kaupapa Māori approach to sustainable growth. The ethos of this approach has many synergies with Māori values such as rangatiratanga (self-determination or governance), kaitiakitanga (stewardship, guardianship of taonga), manaakitanga (caring for a person’s mana), kotahitanga (unity, solidarity) and whanaungatanga (relationships and connection). Furthermore, the Māori world view values the environment, Papatūānuku, which supports human life; people hold responsibility as kaitiaki of this life-giving environment we live in. This aligns with the regenerative economic approach that underpins Community Wealth Building. 

The Southern Initiative has highlighted some ways that mātauranga Māori and indigenous values can be integrated into Community Wealth Building, as specific to the South Auckland context. TSI is in its early days however it has already begun to share what they are learning from their work. Key themes include (The Southern Initiative, 2020):

  • Toxic stress experienced by whānau and tamariki present barriers and impacts the process of supporting and making change. Relieving this stress is important in this process.
  • A long-term intergenerational commitment to the required change is needed and so this work will take time. The commitment must be from all sectors and the communities.
  • Interest and alignment from government, service providers and philanthropic institutions in working together
  • ‘Story of place’ is a strong connecting a thread that supports TSI initiatives
  • To ensure shared prosperity, creating opportunities for recognition and connection to culture is an important part of building conditions for Māori and Pacific economic wellbeing.
  • Support placing indigenous knowledge (mātauranga Māori) at the forefront of approaches to innovation, integrated with western science.
  • Social connection and enduring relationships enable and sustain change, positive social and economic outcomes.  

Community Wealth Building strategies can be applied anywhere. However, they must be place-based which usually requires a bespoke local approach. Hence, regions and cities within New Zealand could adopt and develop bespoke, appropriate local strategies for Community Wealth Building. This is most crucial for areas where the economy has been in decline through years of under-investment, as is the case, in many places in New Zealand, including Eastern Porirua. The contextualising process should involve an assessment of local need to identify the unique economic circumstances and how Community Wealth Building might be moulded to meet these strategic challenges (CLES & PC, 2019, p.23). Thinking locally ensures partners have the opportunity to leverage local conditions, and build the approach together based on local realities, rather than a ‘lift and shift’ interventionist approach.

The Democracy Collaborative has developed a step-by-step guide to getting started with Community Wealth Building (Figure 3).

Figure 3: Getting Started with Community Wealth Building (Democracy Collaborative, 2015)

Application to Eastern Porirua

The Eastern Porirua Regeneration Programme offers a chance to kick start the development and implementation of local policies, strategies and initiatives to support Community Wealth Building, which in turn may inspire other applications within regeneration programmes in New Zealand. The mandate from the original Business Case (under the wellbeing approach taken by Treasury), has now been expanded on in the Regeneration Framework, as developed by the three strategic partners (Porirua City Council, Ngāti Toa and Kāinga Ora). The framework also considered the outputs of considerable public engagement which identified aspirations from the community, for their future, that are in line with the five principles of Community Wealth Building, providing a unique opportunity to consider its application in a regeneration context, where Community Wealth Building stands out as a compelling ethic for economic development.

Urban regeneration, in its fullest meaning*, is in its infancy in New Zealand, and understanding how it can be used as an economic and community development tool in New Zealand requires more thought. Regeneration is about more than just housing or town centre revitalisation: it requires thinking about equitable, inclusive growth and how to reorganise the economy (and built environment) for the long-term benefit of local residents. By incorporating economic drivers - investment, employment, training and worker cooperatives - alongside community focused housing models, Community Wealth Building covers a range of topics and outcomes relevant to regeneration programmes.

From the Regeneration Framework, the outcomes sought for Eastern Porirua have been defined across a wide-ranging group of domains (Figure 4).

Figure 4: Outcomes wheel developed for the Eastern POrirua Regeneration Programme.

Community Wealth Building delivers national and international benefits that directly align to these outcomes sought in the Eastern Porirua regeneration programme, including: 

  • Productivity benefits: contributing to national prosperity
  • Social benefits: bringing economic activity where it can produce the highest social return
  • Environmental benefits: shortening supply chains

Specific, domains and outcomes which are impacted by the Community Wealth Building agenda include:

Inclusive Community Wealth

  • There are opportunities to create wealth in Eastern Porirua
  • People and existing businesses are included in local economic development projects
  • A wide range of career opportunities are available for new and existing residents
  • There are a range of mixed incomes/families in the area
  • People are self-supporting and financially independent
  • People visit and spend their money in Eastern Porirua

Education + Skills

  • Children attend school locally and get a quality education
  • The range of career opportunities available in Porirua fulfil people’s sense of purpose
  • There are good quality school and professional employment opportunities, including further education and vocational training

Access + Mobility

  • People have equitable, affordable and easy access to a range of health and social services and economic opportunities
  • Eastern Porirua is connected to Western Porirua, Kapiti Coast and Greater Wellington

What can we do in Eastern Porirua?

“Growing an economic engine is essential”

- Sir Howard Bernstein, International Study Tour

A wellbeing led regeneration programme provides a critical opportunity for Anchor Institutions to unite around a shared understanding of their civic responsibility to produce a good local economy for the people of Porirua, Reduce generational and in-work poverty/under employment. through, for example, create stable, quality jobs with a living wage for local residents. Working with anchor institutions to create a local supply chain and pay a living wage to their employees. Implementing programmes that promote and provide meaningful employment/career opportunities, not just jobs.

1. Use Local Supply Chains

We can support locally-owned and operated businesses (existing and new), partner with the community & key stakeholders to advance social procurement and associated benefits and deliver a Capacity Building Strategy (in the framework). For example, we can partner with Anchor Institutions to prioritise spending and sourcing services and products locally, e.g. government should only buy its catering from local businesses.    

2. Prioritise Fair Employment

We can develop and adopt a Living Wage or Thriving Wage and inclusive employment policy (PCC). And, engage Anchor Institutions and associated businesses in their supply chain to adopt a Thriving Wage or Living Wage policy also. We can develop or support programmes which unlock employment pathways,  develop job seeking skills, offer qualifications, mentoring and support for low-income, unemployed or ‘second chance’ workers. For example, we can deliver targeted training for people in construction, and other trades or identify residents who want to attend tertiary education and address known barriers to this. In Porirua, this could involve resourcing to help deliver the Porirua Employment and Skills Plan, including establishing a Skills Hub.

3. Invest Locally

Anchor Institutions have a key role to play in boosting local investment through spending, as well as supporting local employment and job training. Also, we can focus on business and investment attraction and incentivisation, by finding businesses, developers or investors that could benefit from being present in Eastern Porirua and work with them to understand what conditions would need to be present to enable them to participate. For example, a low interest fund could be established for community housing development with investors like Simplicity and Community Finance.

4. Make Land + Assets Work for Locals and the Environment

We can restructure the function and ownership of local assets to ensure we deliver tangible financial benefits for citizens. For example, undertake a rationalisation of community assets, their uses and a co-design an integrated approach between the community groups, local council, iwi and government departments about what assets and land are required for what purposes, and how can they be consolidated or managed differently to better optimise their use and reduce cost. The result would be improved communal facilities for community oriented activities run by the community.

5. Diversify Ownership Models

We can focus on equitable growth models to support new local enterprises, including social enterprises, which return economic power to local communities and businesses. For example, we could establish a cooperatively owned and operated café and co-working space that returns profit to the employees. We can fund and implement equitable and sustainable, community-focused housing. Supporting local people to co-design, co-develop, and co-own a range of housing types. For example, housing models such as Community Land Trusts and Cooperatives which deliver permanent affordable housing provision and economic opportunities. 

In summary

The UK Centre for Local Economic Strategies describes Community Wealth Building as “an intentional reorganisation of the local economy in order to tackle the inequalities and disadvantages that are today, so acutely felt in our homes and communities” (CLES & PCC, 2019, p.4). As a framework and driver for creating an inclusive economy, Community Wealth Building aims to organise the economy so that wealth is not extracted, but broadly held, and that income is recirculated (CLES & PCC, 2019). Overall this is about identifying the opportunities for inclusive economic development that are contextually appropriate, and that are either supported by or identified by the community, rather than these being imposed upon them.


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