The Five Principles of Community Economic Development

January 23, 2017

Community economic development (CED) is an inclusive and participatory process by which communities initiate and generate their own multiple bottom-line solutions to economic problems. Community economic developers focus on stabilizing local economies; creating long-term employment; building on local resources and capacities; increasing community control and ownership, and the health of the environment.

While community economic development approaches can look vastly different in every community, what they have in common are the 5 basic principles on which they are based. Try using this simple framework to assess economic development proposals in your community.

1. SUSTAINABILITY: Is this a long term solution?

Sustainability refers to environmental, social, cultural, financial continuity and community well-being. CED involves analysis and planning to implement policies and practices that will make communities resilient for the long-term.


2. COMMUNITY-BASED: Does it serve the interests of the broader community?

Community-based in CED means an enterprise or community-wide planning process that is focused on the common interests of the broader community as well as the individual participants. CED facilitates community control utilizing a grass-roots, bottom-up process.


3. PARTICIPATORY: Have a broad and diverse range of community members been involved?

Participation in CED is by a broad and diverse range of community/project members in terms of class, age, culture, gender and ability. CED invites and ensures active and inclusive participation in planning and implementation of strategies.


4. ASSET-BASED: What are the communities resources and assets?

In CED, the resources, talents and abilities of the community form the foundation for planning and developing projects. CED builds on local community resources and assets as well as meeting needs.


5. SELF-RELIANCE: Does it reduce economic dependence?

CED reduces economic dependence of communities by analyzing the flow of wealth in, out and within the community, identifying how leaks can be plugged and establishing trade links that benefit all partners.




Applications for the 2017/18 Certificate Program for Community Economic Development open soon. If you are considering applying and/or would like to know more about our program, please contact Anna Kemp at