The Preston Model
Progressive City Economics
Following the failure of an economic development plan based on attracting inward investment, Preston City Council saw the need for a new approach to address the growing needs of the city and its people. In 2013, they enlisted CLES to help make it happen.
Since 2013, over £70 million has been redirected back into the Preston economy; £200 million invested into the Lancashire economy; spending behaviour within public bodies has been transformed; and, new tools for a fairer economy have been developed. The Preston Model has received national attention from press, government and towns and cities up and down the country, and it is shaping the narrative around what a new post-Brexit, devolved economy can look like.
Preston experienced significant challenges when a major developer withdrew from the city and Preston’s economic development plans were dashed. The city needed a new approach, so Preston decided to pursue a vision to re-imagine the way in which economic development could be pursued. By drawing on learning from local wealth building activities taking place in the UK and beyond, Preston decided to challenge trickle down economics and instead harness the potential of its existing wealth within local public bodies, or anchor institutions. CLES, who was already developing local wealth building and progressive procurement strategies with UK cities, was invited to work collaboratively with Preston to explore options for its local economy.
Preston's city challenge was to address the diverse challenges facing Preston. Building on their knowledge of Community Wealth Building initiatives in Cleveland in the US and Mondragon in the Basque Country, and their existing work in a UK context, they worked to find a unique solution for Preston.
The Preston Model has rooted itselves in Preston and has cajoled change through engaging with Preston City Council and a range of partners. The primary emphasis has been upon changing minds and behaviours politically, in policy terms and practically for the benefit of the local economy – away from placing less emphasis on cost alone, towards a consideration of social value. They have engaged senior stakeholders in each institution, undertaken spend analysis, advised on what needs to change in procurement processes, and reviewed progress. CLES has been at the heart of a collaborative movement with their approach shaped by their experiences and values.
They have been involved in the wider aspects of The Preston Model too, including Living Wage and corporate social responsibility policies.