Rural and Remote Municipalities as Practitioners and Intermediaries in Social Enterprise Development: A Case for Place-Based Policy

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Ferguson, Mary
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University of Guelph

Rural municipalities have a critical role to play in the field of social enterprise development. This level of government best reflects local conditions, concerns, values and histories. There is little research supporting rural municipalities’ decision-making in the role of practitioners and intermediaries in rural social enterprise development. This research provides case studies that highlight effective practices in current use, practices that could be replicated and built on to better stimulate and support rural and remote development of social enterprise. This research documents social enterprise interventions as local phenomena, within an understanding of specifically rural policy, rural opportunities, and rural challenges. Case study methodologies were used to describe rural and remote social enterprises and effective practices. The researcher conducted a cross-case analysis, comparing studies to reveal new knowledge of what rural and remote municipalities are doing to support social enterprise development and the social economy. Municipalities are active as intermediaries in the following ways:Providing grants to non-profit organizations to support their social enterprise development; Supporting citizen engagement and collaborative creation; Act as a patient or loss-leader landlord to create new opportunities for non-profit organizations; Support good ideas with short-term insurance coverage; Linking social development enterprises to support across jurisdictions; Partnering in early-stage social enterprise concept development; Endorsing the social enterprise work of local non-profit organizations; Leveraging the results of non-profit social enterprises to meet civic objectives. Municipalities also act as practitioners and operate their own social enterprises. They: Maintain ownership of public infrastructure; Use corporate structures creatively; Enshrine earned revenue in municipal strategic plans; Work across political boundaries to support social enterprise concepts; Formalize friendship accords with First Nations to support truth and reconciliation; Build a vibrant system supporting the development of rural and remote municipalities. Rural and remote municipalities are not currently linked to the emerging system of support for social enterprise development. The conclusions and recommendations in the final two chapters of this document lay out a path for municipalities to become active in that system emerging in Ontario.

Rural, social enterprise, municipalities