The project will focus on two elements that will support the development of inclusive growth strategies for provincial towns, often dominated by major regional centres. The strategies will focus on SME development, improving their opportunities to access public sector procurement exercises and employee development.
The proposal will explore how SME’s might benefit from some of the major procurement opportunities on offer from a town’s public or private sector ‘anchor institutions’ which could be extended to sub-contracting opportunities. It will help us examine new approaches to the retention of money and investment within a local economy through both procurement and local supply chains, further developing an existing analysis of gaps in sectoral spend.
The term ‘anchor institutions’ is used to refer to organisations which have an important presence in a place, usually through a combination of being large-scale employers, one of the largest purchasers of goods and services in the locality, controlling large areas of land and having relatively fixed assets. Examples include local authorities, NHS trusts, universities, trade unions, local businesses, and social housing organisations or major private sector employers.
This approach alone will not necessarily deliver an inclusive community, therefore the project will also explore new approaches to counter wage stagnation and employee development. As the economy has grown since the recession we have seen an increase in less secure employment, with more temporary work and zero hour contracts. The project will therefore develop new methodologies to demonstrate the benefits of employee development. Currently the cost benefit analysis of investments tend to focus on money (profit or savings). This project will explore the development of a new approach that can demonstrate the economic value of an inclusive growth strategy and how that can encourage investment in towns on the periphery of metro growth.