Building an Economy for All in Salford

I was invited to attend a seminar organised by CLES called building an economy for all in Salford. As I sat waiting for the conference to start in the state of the art AJ Bell Stadium with the view of a boat sailing down the Manchester Ship Canal I started to wonder why it was necessary to consider building an Economy for All in Salford. 

My first impressions of the City, as I travelled to meetings in my new role as Voice & Influence Manager at Salford Council for Voluntary Services (CVS), were of a healthy local economy, with Media City, lots of businesses and lots of investment in building new homes. Economic growth equals jobs and so is, therefore, providing better opportunities for local residents, right?

Engines for Growth

The City Mayor, Paul Dennet, who opened the Seminar confirmed my first observations that Salford is experiencing economic growth and is directly benefitting from the government transferring power away from Westminster to Greater Manchester City Region (as part of the Northern Powerhouse). What I found particularly interesting was the fact that despite this growth, there are high levels of economic inequality and poverty within the City, which clearly showed why it is necessary to consider building an economy for all. An interesting blog by Josh Stott from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation describes cities like Salford as engines of growth but also locations of the greatest levels of poverty.

Anchor Institutions

Neil McInroy from CLES gave a very informative overview of what an inclusive economy is, describing how in an inclusive economy wealth is broadly held with local roots and income is recirculated to ensure broader ownership. This asset-based, inclusive approach to economic development is not new. I first came across it some years ago at a similar seminar in Rochdale where I was introduced to the work of the Democracy Collaborative. I was therefore really interested to hear what Ted Howard the Co-founder and President of the Democracy Collaborative had to say about their successful assets-based approach to economic development in Cleveland Ohio. Although Cleveland Ohio is the 2nd or 3rd poorest city in America it has resources in its Anchor Institutions. I must admit, the first time I heard this term I didn’t really understand what it meant. Ted explained that the term was basically used to describe institutions that have the resources to procure billions of dollars’ worth of goods and services (but are so called because they are anchored into local neighbourhoods and cannot get up and leave).

With my passion for the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector and the difference they make to local communities I was, of course, interested in what Alison Page (CEO, Salford CVS)  had to say about the economic contribution of the 1,513 voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations in Salford, who contribute a staggering £111.2 million to the local economy, this is also enhanced by 46,800 volunteers who contribute around £111.2 million per annum in Social Value to the City (read the State of the Sector in Salford for more on this).

The Digital Economy

Both Neil McInroy (CLES) and Jon Corner (The City’s first ever digital officer) both talked about the impact of advances in technology on the economy.  I listened with great interest and some level of concern as Jon described the likely impact of automation and artificial intelligence on jobs, and the need for changes in our mainstream education system to enable future generations to have the skills needed to build a world leading digital economy.  I was also very interested to hear that Jon’s role will deliver a digital strategy which aims to make Salford on of the world’s most attractive cities for digital enterprise.  Neil Mc Arthur, Group Innovation Director for TalkTalk also emphasized Salford as the place to be for technological companies and emphasized that there is a lack of proactive work going on to promote why businesses should be based in Salford.  He demonstrated a great case for why technological companies like Google should leave their London base and come to Salford.

The Power of People & organisations

Erika Rushton (Director of the Beautiful Ideas Co), Neil McArthur (Founder of the Hamilton Davies Trust) and Alison Page (CEO, Salford CVS) all talked about something I am very familiar with, which is how local people can tackle inequality, poverty, poor wellbeing and quality of life.  Erika gave a very inspiring insight into t the Beautiful Ideas Company and Baltic Creative. Great examples of how local communities in Liverpool, when provided with the right kind of support and investment did transform and regenerate their communities.  Neil also talked about how the Hamilton Davies Trust is investing in local communities to bring about similar kinds of change here in Salford.

If you want to use your power to bring about Change in Salford, then why not sign up to the 10% Better Campaign and make your pledge.

Salford CVS
Michelle Warburton, Voice and Influence Manager

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Salford CVS & Volunteer Centre
Registered address 
The Old Town Hall 
5 Irwell Place 
Salford, M30 0FN

Tel: 0161 787 7795 


Salford CVS is the city-wide infrastructure organisation for the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector; providing specialist information, advice, development support and opportunities for influence and collaboration.

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