The Irish political party Sinn Féin has embraced a wide-ranging community wealth building agenda. “Community wealth building has emerged as a powerful approach to local economic development,” the party says in a report detailing its new economic development direction. ”Through this approach local and regional economies are reorganized to ensure that wealth is not extracted from towns and counties but retained and recirculated. This development model aims to leverage existing local resources to meet local needs while promoting values of equity and sustainability.”
The report underscores the emphasis of community wealth building on creating and strengthening “locally owned and community-owned businesses that are anchored in place, that aren’t moving,” using such assets as the purchasing power of public and anchor institutions.
“If traditional economic development tends to be about attracting industry to a community, this strategy is instead about resourcing underutilized local assets to make a community more vibrant. It’s about developing assets in such a way that the wealth is added to a community and not simply extracted. This model aims to empower ordinary families, workers and communities in order to control their own economic development,” the report says.
In the report, Sinn Féin is proposing that:
- Community wealth building has the potential to play an important role in the development of local economies across the island.
- Community wealth building could be utilized to address the underdevelopment of rural Ireland and lead to more balanced regional development across the island.
- The model merits further examination at the local, regional and national level regarding how it could be implemented across the country.