Plugging the leaks!
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Bro Ddyfi Communities First is working on strengthening the local economy, in partnership with ecodyfi.
An interesting evening was held recently, to explore how money flows through the economy.
The event sought to engage local people in considering the significance of the spending decisions of local consumers and businesses and to put some of them in a position where they would be willing and able to take this message out into the rest of the community.
The community regeneration group, ecodyfi, was commissioned to organize the event.
In turn, they commissioned Liz Bickerton to deliver the content. Liz is an independent Powys-based consultant with experience in community economic development and regeneration.
One aim of the Group is to make the local economy more robust - more self-reliant and less vulnerable to factors outside its control - through increasing the circulation of money within the economy.
For the local economy, a pound spent in a locally-owned business will typically be worth 1.7 times a pound spent on other businesses, in the sense that it is more likely to be re-spent locally and therefore support local jobs.
The concept of the 'Leaky Bucket' is that the local economy is like a bucket being filled with money. The money leaks out of the local economy every time goods and services are purchased from elsewhere.
Analysing the major leaks can lead to action.
For example, around £4 million is spent every year on energy in Bro Ddyfi, but very little of this is spent with local suppliers.
This particular leak has been reduced a little in recent years by people using less energy (after insulating their houses) and by setting up local electricity generation (e.g. the community wind turbine), but there is potential to do much more.
If new housing developments (such as those envisaged at Heulfryn in Ceinws, Llanwrin and Cemmaes) were heated by district heating systems fuelled by chipped local wood, the "energy spend" would support the jobs of local forestry contractors.
Discussion on the night raised the importance of information: where can I buy such and such locally? Word of mouth is important, but support was also expressed for the creation of a local business directory.
Notes for Editors:
Communities First is a Welsh Assembly Government initiative to help selected communities work with the public sector to break the cycle of disadvantage. Bro Ddyfi was selected to explore how this approach could work in a rural area. This work was commissioned by the Bro Ddyfi Communities First Partnership, to further the work of its Economy & Employment Group. The remit of the group is to drive forward the Economy & Employment section of the Local Action Plan. The Communities First Partnership also acts as the core group of the Machynlleth & District Local Community Forum (LCF). The LCF is the means for the community to engage with the Powys Community Strategy.
ecodyfi is the community regeneration group for the Dyfi Valley. It pays particular attention to strengthening the local economy through careful stewardship of natural and cultural resources. It is managed by a Board of 17 local people and is supported by the Welsh Development Agency.