The Moment We’re In

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To mark the final day in Neil McInroy’s 20 years of service as the Chief Executive of CLES, he will be joined by our newly arrived Chief Executive, Sarah Longlands, for a discussion chaired by journalist Rachel Shabi.

Their conversation will centre on the pivotal moment in which we find ourselves. As the UK emerges from the depths of the Covid-19 pandemic, and we begin to come to terms with it’s impact on the lives of people in communities that were already struggling, is this a new dawn for progressive local economics?

At CLES, the work we have done in establishing community wealth building in the UK emerged from our recognition, in the 00s, that traditional local economic development was failing. The subsequent application of the approach in dozens of localities is testament to its status as a powerful tool in the fight to develop fairer local economies.

Now, in 2021, we can add the climate crisis and the onset of Covid-19 to the list of calamities besetting local economies. But, while this is a moment where the stakes often feel impossibly high, it is also a moment of hope. Covid-19 has served as a reminder to us all of the importance of community and of our local places. Now could be the moment where we seize that energy to start to turn the dial on economic democracy and power.

This event will take place online, is free of charge and joining instructions will be sent in the week commencing each session.

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About the speakers

Sarah Longlands

Sarah is an expert in regional and local economic development and argues for economic and social justice and the creation of places which enable people to live good lives.

Before joining CLES as Chief Executive, Sarah was Director of IPPR North, the dedicated think tank for the North of England. She previously worked for CLES until 2011 and began her career in local government, working in County Durham and North Yorkshire. She has a PhD in Urban Studies from the University of Glasgow.

Neil McInroy

For over 20 years, Neil has overseen the running of CLES and the development of the organisation, including collaborations with other bodies. A leading commentator on economic development and public policy, Neil has featured in Local Government Chronicle’s annual top 50 most influential people in local government.

Upon leaving CLES, Neil will join The Democracy Collaborative as a senior global adviser and community wealth building fellow, working on advancing the approach in the US.

Rachel Shabi

An award-winning journalist, author and broadcaster, Rachel Shabi has written for a variety of international publications, including the Guardian, The New York Times, The London Times, The Independent, Al Jazeera English, Foreign Policy, The New Statesman, Prospect and The Nation. She is a regular commentator across broadcast media, including BBC News, Sky News, CNN and Al Jazeera English as well as BBC World Service radio. Her critically acclaimed book, Not the Enemy – Israel’s Jews from Arab Lands, was published in the UK, US and Germany and received a National Jewish Book award.