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What is Place-based Enterprise?

Place-based enterprise builds stronger and more vibrant communities by promoting business that is intrinsic to what is local. The unique history, environment, culture and economy of a particular place provide the catalyst for place-based enterprise initiatives. It is sometimes referred to as experiential enterprise, environmental enterprise, community-based enterprise or enterprise for sustainability. 

Mega Trends 

Trends provide invaluable tools to assist in the shaping of places that will thrive in the future. The need for place-based enterprise has been sparked by the emerging mega trend of the “experience economy”. This is where authentic character, unique stories and the full integrated experience of the commerce interaction provides the most profitable opportunities for business in the future. 

Place-based enterprise’s local focus also responds to macro challenges such as global warming, new technologies, and a universal trend towards more ethical business practice, also known as ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’. It is the natural extension of community-based initiatives in public art and placemaking – the art of strengthening a place’s character and identity, merged with the economic realities of commerce, town centre marketing, and local employment needs. 

Sense of Place

The revitalisation of existing town centres or the establishment of new town centres on greenfield sites can often lose or confuse their “sense of place”. Focusing too quickly or intensely on national or global corporations as the drivers of the centre’s cultural, physical and economic vitality, can divert attention from the more valuable local drivers. 

This is not to say that international and domestic corporations are peripheral to place-based enterprise. However, to protect and enhance a locality’s “sense of place” sustainable community enterprises should first have grounding in the history, culture and ecology of their surrounding environment, while tapping into the economic vitality and opportunities of broader based corporations. 

Local Community Benefits

Place-based enterprise strategies avoid giving private interests unrestricted access to public cultural and environmental resources. Corporate incentives are balanced by local and public place-based enterprise incentives. Place-based enterprise embraces the view that a sustainable economy is one that nurtures the intrinsic qualities of a place to deliver long-term economic benefits to the community of that place. 

It is important that the local community benefits from local enterprise development activities. It is crucial to partner place-based enterprise measures with place-based people strategies at the local level. This links people in need to the opportunities being created, and thus enhances the community’s skills and capacity. Simple and obvious outcomes for all place-based enterprises should be “quality jobs for local people”.


Edge-Town Networks 

Place-based enterprise provides a strategy for towns at the edge of growth corridors or larger town and city centres. It supports sustainable community development by encouraging smaller scale, networked enterprises. These create businesses that are realising unique local environmental, social and economic benefits.


This networked approach can provide long-term economic viability to smaller communities within regions, by providing new economic opportunities that complement the existing larger and often more vibrant regional centres.


Protect Lifestyle and Grow Jobs 

Most towns don’t have it easy. In fact, advantage naturally drifts to the strongest 20%. Towns and cities that are naturally well positioned for growth attract more opportunities for growth. This in turn further widens the gap between those towns and cities without the initial natural advantage to sustain the growth process.


Smaller towns are increasingly realising that ‘they have to make it happen’ if they want to keep their local lifestyle. Place-based enterprise initiatives are often the only option for towns that want to secure a vital future that protects and strengthens their local values. For communities that want to “protect lifestyle and grow jobs", place-based enterprise provides a framework to deliver this challenging paradox.


Public Infrastructure 

Public infrastructure is a critical element in delivering place-based enterprise initiatives. To rebuild private sector confidence in stressed or declining centres requires an upfront investment in public infrastructure. This investment needs to provide a strategic framework for delivering infrastructure that strengthens the local community and provides leverage for new business activity.


To create activity through increased levels of private sector investment, place-based enterprises strategies need to deliver these initiatives through a sequence of catalyst projects. This needs to be undertaken within the context of a framework of ‘cascading infrastructures’, and requires the merging of soft processes with hard outcomes.


Delivering the Promise 

Place-based enterprise strategies are vision-based and outcomes-focused. This process requires a commitment to the integrity of the community’s vision during the five critical delivery phases of facilitation, formulation, finance, management and evaluation. In many ways, past public sector interventions to assist town centre revitalisation have included place-based aspects, but this approach has rarely been embraced throughout the full delivery process. It is paramount for place-based enterprise initiatives to deliver the local benefits inherent in the “promise of change” made to the community at the beginning of the process.


Place-based enterprise is: 

·        Stimulating authentic local enterprise based on intrinsic community values

·        The merging of ‘soft’ people processes with ‘hard’ project outcomes

·        The natural synergy of placemaking and town centre economics

·        Governance that engages the local community, builds capacity and delivers the vision.


Key aims of place-based enterprise: 

·        Create quality jobs that benefit the local community.

·        Build long-term social, economic and cultural vitality.

·        Make communities better places for people and businesses.


The delivery of place-based enterprise: 

·        Engages and strengthens a community

·        Is based on viable local economic opportunities

·        Requires a community-based commitment to enhancing its “sense of place”

·        Requires a place-based focus to ensure the outcomes deliver the vision.


Successful place-based enterprise strategies: 

·        Care about place - physical, cultural and economic

·        Provide the catalyst for sustainable community growth

·        Build on the experience of delivering creative placemaking projects

·        Understand the process of designing and constructing public infrastructure

·        Deliver projects that have authentic character and promote intrinsic local values

·        Ultimately help boost employment, support increased business activity, create appealing town  c             centres, and build community pride.

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