Working collaboratively with other anchor institutions in the region will be key to achieving the change we desire. Anchor institutions are organisations that are rooted to an area. Typically, they employ a lot of people and have real buying and spending power.
What constitutes an anchor institution will depend on the scale of the local economy and the geography of the local place. They include local government, the NHS, colleges and universities, but can also include small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), community organisations and charities.
We’ve brought North Ayrshire and Ayrshire’s leading anchor institutions together and formed a Community Wealth Building Commission. Our aim is to embed the principles of Community Wealth Building within major regional anchor institutions to support a more inclusive economy. The Commission recently celebrated a major landmark with the launch of an Anchor Charter.
The Ayrshire Community Wealth Building Anchor Charter commits local and regional anchor institutions to a range of pledges across the five pillars of Community Wealth Building (procurement, fair employment, land and assets, financial power, plural ownership of the economy) and a ‘sixth pillar’ of climate action. Our mission is to improve collective wellbeing and create a strong, resilient and inclusive local and regional economy.
We’re still at the first stage of our journey and Community Wealth Building is a long-term ambition for the Council. We have reflected on some of the key lessons from our work so far and would highlight the importance of the following factors for those looking to begin this journey:
- Strong leadership, setting a vision and getting buy in
- Educating anchors institutions and senior leaders on what Community Wealth Building is and the role they can play in creating a more inclusive economy
- Engaging ‘bottom up’ with local businesses, social enterprises and community organisations
- Being prepared to rethink the way we traditionally do things
- Valuing challenge and feedback - for example, we’ve set up an Expert Advisory Panel to challenge us and ensure best practice.
North Ayrshire Council is one of 14 members of the Inclusive Growth Network.