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Place making

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Sir Michael Lyons coined the phrase “place shaping” during times of prosperity. This was rapidly replaced by conversations about “place shielding” when the downturn began to bite.

Such shielding was to be temporary, a stopgap until the cavalry of inward investment reappeared at the top of the hill. Now we know it will be a long time coming. So the strategic challenge is how to “place make”, how to create prosperity without outside help. To ignore it is to stare into the abyss.

In its Global Risks 2012 report, the World Economic Forum said: “Dystopia, the opposite of a utopia, describes a place where life is full of hardship and devoid of hope. Analysis of linkages across various global risks reveals a constellation of fiscal, demographic and societal risks signaling a dystopian future for much of humanity.

“The interplay among these risks could result in a world where a large youth population contends with chronic, high levels of unemployment, while concurrently, the largest population of retirees in history becomes dependent upon already heavily indebted governments. Both young and old could face an income gap, as well as a skills gap so wide as to threaten social and political stability.”

Local government is already experiencing some of these consequences: the challenges of care funding, the riots of 2011, worklessness and the withdrawal from traditional political engagement.

As chief executives gather at Solace Summit in Coventry, rebuilding local economic prosperity will be high on the agenda. We have recently been working with chief executives to explore what local authorities need to do differently.

The challenge is particularly acute in areas where the public sector accounts for a substantial proportion of gross value added (GVA), where making savings risks tipping local economies over the edge. The focus more than ever is on local economic leadership.

At Solace we will be bringing together people who have substantial experience of making progress, including Gavyn Davies, one of the leading global economists, outlining the reality of the challenge we all face, and Professor Bernard King, recounting how Abertay University created the largest computer games industry outside the US.

A number of local authority chief executives will explain how they have provided the local economic leadership necessary to grow prosperity from the bottom up and to ensure that prosperity is shared among local people.

New challenges call for new approaches; we hope you can join us to help lead the way.

Max Wide, director, iMPOWER

The Solace Summit will be will be the UK’s largest gathering of local authority Chief Executives and senior managers. It will be held in Coventry between 16 and 18 October.

Book your place by emailing or phoning 0845 652 4010.  You can pay over the phone by credit card or request an invoice. FInd out more at


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