Make investment work harder


Room: World of Music (WoM) 2

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This breakout will look at how we can pivot the prevailing approaches to inward investment so that they meaningfully impact on peoples’ lives and how we can exert greater control over making that investment work better for people, place and planet. We will hear from councils who are pioneering better models of investment and moving from a model of foreign direct investment towards more local direct investment.

Leah Millthorne (chair) is Head of Local Economies at CLES. She is an experienced researcher, analyst, economist and local economies expert with significant applied economic analysis skills, understanding of the challenges local economies face, and the scope for innovation throughout local government and civil society to create transformational change. Leah has recently led the co-design of circular economy and sharing economy projects in Cumbria and developed a for local authorities to maximise the social, economic and environmental impacts of levelling up for the Association of Public Service Excellence.

Neil McInroy is The Democracy Collaborative’s global lead for community wealth building. He has been involved in progressive economic and public policy for more than 25 years. Named as one of the most influential people in local government in the UK, Neil has collaborated with a range of local, regional, state and national governments across Europe, Asia, North America, and Australasia. He is presently a community wealth building adviser to the Scottish Government. Neil served as the CEO of CLES for two decades. Alongside a range of pioneering economic policy and practice work in UK and beyond, Neil was instrumental in leading the organizations activity on community wealth building . This included a critical role in the development of the “Preston model” and the subsequent advancement of a range of tools and expertise that has seen the movement grow in many locations across the UK.

Kaya Comer-Schwartz is the Leader of Islington Council and has represented Junction Ward since 2013. Kaya was appointed Executive Member for Children, Young People and Families in 2019, previously serving as Executive Member for Community Development. Kaya’s professional background is in the charitable sector, and she has worked for the Centre for Mental Health, Shelter and World Jewish Relief. Kaya sits on the Executive of London Council’s Grants Committee and the National Living Wage Friendly Funders Steering Group. Kaya is also a member of the Archway Town Centre Business group and is the Thrive LDN co-lead.

David Berry is Work and Skills Lead at Manchester City Council, a role he has held since 2021. Prior to joining Manchester he was Head of Economy, Employment and Skills at Tameside Council, which he joined in 2005, a role which saw him lead on inclusive growth, commissioning and delivering services including adult education, supported employment, careers support services for young people, business support and advice and employment and health provision.

Val McNeice is Programme Manager, Health and Inclusive Economy with the Glasgow City Region Programme Management Office and the Glasgow Centre for Population Health. Val is experienced in providing expertise on research and evaluation, and in translating learning into action. For the last five years, Val has been focused on exploring opportunities for the City Region to put inequalities in health and wealth at the heart of economic decision making – and turning these opportunities into policy and practice to create a more inclusive regional economy. Val is also a member of the Scottish Government’s Community Wealth Building Bill Steering Group.