Community Economic Development or CED is a process or strategy
that is used to analyze economic systems and their impact
on a community. CED looks at how money moves through a neighbourhood
or a community and what impact that movement of money has
on the people within the community. It also looks at what
is needed within the community. The key concept of CED is
using local resources to meet local needs while at the same
time creating healthy and economically viable communities.
CED is about working with communities to develop positive
and sustainable processes, not imposing a system from outside
the community. CED looks at all aspects of the economy, not
just commercial, and is a powerful tool in working towards
happy, healthy communities.
There are 11 criteria of community economic development:
By using local goods and services, a community creates greater
self-reliance and less dependence on outside markets while
at the same time supporting local producers. For example,
bread sold at Winnipeg's Tall Grass Bakery is made from
organic wheat and other grains grown by local Manitoba farmers.
The first step to using local goods and services is producing
goods and services that are needed within the community.
In the early 1990s residents of Winnipeg's North End got
together and named a need for healthy food at an affordable
cost. Neechi Foods Community Store developed out of this
discussion. Neechi sells wild rice, fresh bannock, local
fish, and fresh fruit and vegetables at affordable prices.
CED encourages businesses to invest their profits towards
community-building activities rather than keep them for
their own gain. In this way the whole community benefits.
Investing in the community can mean anything from improving
the business' retail space to donating products to community
organizations to sponsoring a community garden project.
Providing long-term jobs for people within a community is
another goal of CED. Dependable employment benefits a community
in many different ways. It increases residents' self-esteem,
provides opportunities for people to live more socially
productive lives, reduces dependency on service providers
such as food banks and social assistance, and brings more
wages and salaries into the community.
CED also encourages local skill development. In the West
Broadway neighbourhood of Winnipeg, local youth are hired
each summer to participate in community-building activities
such as gardening, composting, and home renovation. Local
businesses invest some of their profits towards this project.
The work the young people do gives them training for the
future but also increases the labour force, creates and
improves neighbourhood housing, gives young people an income,
and makes the community look better. The benefits of local
skill development ripple out across the community.
Many CED businesses are collectively-owned which means that
all people who work at the business have a part in the decision-making
and become part-owners of the businesses. For example, Mondragon
Bookstore and Coffeehouse in Winnipeg's Exchange District
is a collectively-owned and operated vegetarian coffeehouse
and political bookstore. As a cooperative, Mondragon has
no manager and all worker-members, regardless of starting
skill or seniority, earn the same rate of pay. All work
is divided among collective members so all take their turn
doing each of the different kinds of activities that are
necessary for running a business (cooking, serving, working
in the bookstore, attending meetings, cleaning bathrooms).
In return, they all enjoy the benefits of being co-owners
in the business.
The CED model invests in community development that brings
physical, mental and emotional health and well-being to
community members at home, in the workplace and in the community
at large. For example, Art
City, an inner-city drop-in centre for kids and adults,
provides space and material for artistic expression leading
to greater mental well-being of neighbourhood people. Dragonfly
Scent-Free Bodywork and Massage Therapy promotes community
health through physical well-being. Neechi Community Store
creates community health by providing healthy food. Each
of these efforts benefit the community tremendously, contributing
to healthier families, more effective education, and a more
CED projects encourage healthy, safe, and attractive neighbourhoods.
The Humboldt's Legacy store in Winnipeg promotes environmental
sustainability by providing environmentally-sound cleaning
products, clothing made from organic cotton, and biodegradable
shampoos and other body products. CED youth employment projects
throughout Manitoba provide gardens and compost piles, creating
more ecologically-friendly and more attractive cities. Housing
projects also help make neighbourhoods more attractive and
CED encourages development that brings stability and health
to a whole community. While bars and casinos tend to bring
neighbourhood breakdown, CED projects like the Panda Bear
Daycare Cooperative in the east end of Winnipeg and the
catering service run out of Andrews Street Family Centre,
a drop-in centre in Winnipeg's North End, bring safety and
stability by providing employment and services that people
need. Dependable, affordable, secure housing like that provided
by the Inner City Renovation Enterprise also satisfies need,
creates stability and beauty, and makes the neighbourhood
a place where people can live together in harmony.
Essentially, CED works for the self-respect and dignity
of all members of the community. CED is an economic model
whose goal is to increase people's capacity to better themselves
through their own efforts. In order to do this, community
development needs to be respectful of people of all ages,
levels of ability and income, cultural backgrounds, and
towards both genders. CED projects recognize the specific
needs of all people and work to fulfill those needs using
Finally, CED projects strategically support other CED projects
by buying from each other. Neechi Foods buys wild rice from
Kagiwiosa Manomin, an Ojibway owned and operated cooperative
in Northwestern Ontario, as well as coffee from workers
cooperatives in Central America. In this way CED projects
all over the world are strengthened by each other.
You can support CED by shopping at businesses that practice community economic development. You can
also show these criteria to other businesses and encourage them
to be a part of this growing movement. If you are a business
owner, you can adopt the principles of CED for your own business and encourage other business owners to do the same.
In Winnipeg, SEED Winnipeg, UNPAC, and LITE produced a community
shopping guide listing businesses that match the criteria
of CED. For copies contact SEED
Winnipeg at 204-927-9935.
Visit our Guidelines for
Ethical Consumption for more ideas on creating community
through your purchasing.
These principles were originally developed by members of the
Neechi Foods Cooperative between 1991-1993. Special thanks
to Anna Rothney of the Community & Economic Development Committee
of Cabinet and Louise Simbandumwe of SEED Winnipeg for their
input into this article.
Community Economic Development