Community economic development is an approach through which communities can work together to build capacities to pursue common economic, social and environmental objectives. Community economic development strategies attempt to link solutions to the economic needs of individuals with the broader well-being of the community as a whole.
“Community” may mean a specific geographical community, or a group sharing a common interest or set of values. Community economic development processes help community members develop leadership, articulate a common vision, and develop the individual and collective skills necessary to implement that vision. Successful community strategies are able to create broad-based, sustainable partnerships of stakeholders within and around the local community. Community-based economic development processes respect the character of specific communities as well as their belief systems and social and cultural values. For example, community economic development organizations have been active since the 1990s in inner-city areas of Regina, Saskatoon and Prince Albert to help local citizens develop and implement solutions to the social and economic problems of their neighbourhoods.
Saskatchewan’s long tradition of community economic development is rooted in the co-operative movement that gave the province’s producers and consumers a greater voice in the decisions that impacted both on their interests and their local communities. Like the co-operative movement, community economic development operates on principles of local ownership and decision making, self-determination, inclusiveness, autonomy, and governance of initiatives by the community itself. Saskatchewan may be unique in its reliance on a blend of individual enterprise and initiative with co-operative and collective community action.