What is community economic development?

‘Community economic development’ or ‘CED’ describes a process of economic development within a specific geographic area, to make the economy in that area work well for that community.

The process is led by people living, working and running businesses in that area. As an approach, it tackles environmental, social and economic issues as interconnected, and recognises the importance of connections between the local, regional and national layers of the economy. It builds on the knowledge, experience and resources in that community, to identify and maximise the local economic opportunities available. Within our use of CED we emphasise three important attributes:

  1. The overall focus is the economy: CED is all about re-shaping the underlying economic system in a place, rather than working on improving people’s capacity to live well within the existing environment.
  2. The economy is a means to an end, not an end in itself: Rather than emphasising economic growth as the end goal of local economic development, a CED approach is interested in economic development which generates human wellbeing within environmental limits, at a community level.
  3. It’s led by the community: In CED, the power to drive the change rests within the community of residents, local businesses, local service providers, community groups and voluntary sector organisations with a direct stake in the economic health of that area.
Read more about CED in our introductory guide