Academics have reported on the role of local government involvement in local and regional economic development strategies.

A new report from the University of Technology Sydney’s Centre for Local Government (UTS CLG) picks apart the varying roles and levels of engagement that councils play in regards to leadership, organisation and delivery of local and regional economic development.

“The principle that economic development is a co-responsibility tends to be accepted by all tiers of governments and social and economic actors. However, how this translates into practice remains ambiguous and contested,” said report co-author Professor Lee Pugalis.

The study says promoting economic development is a relatively recent feature of local government activities.

“There is huge diversity of economic development roles across the landscape of local government. For the majority of councils it remains an ‘additional’ rather than ‘general’ function, although this can often downplay their positive role in local and regional economic development,” said Professor Roberta Ryan, director of UTS CLG.

“This research has brought to the forefront the importance of internal and external perceptions and how these shape the role of councils in economic development.”

Each tier of government has a role in promoting economic development, but not in ways that necessarily complement one another.

The report suggests all tiers of government should be more coherent in the pursuit of local and regional economic development.

“The local government sector has an important role to play in promoting economic development, but one that evades a singular model. This poses a distinct challenge to higher tiers of government in terms of how they interface with specific councils as well as how councils interface with their stakeholders,” said Professor Pugalis.

The report, The Role of Local Government in Local and Regional Economic Development, is accessible here.