Knowing my region and its local economy

Think back on the previous decade in your local economy; how many businesses have you seen come and go? How many times have you been sad or surprised to hear that a local employer had gone out of business? How many of these businesses supported your local community and worked to achieve a positive social impact in your region? Have you ever stopped to consider what your local businesses should give back to your local community, and your own role in supporting local businesses so that your local economy booms? Perhaps now is the time to start evaluating your role in your local economy; and the role that business plays in ensuring the sustainable development of your local community.

 Key terms to consider here include:
Corporate Social Responsibility: CSR refers to when a company takes responsibility for their impact on society, by addressing the social and environmental impact of their business. Through CSR, businesses address social and environmental issues as part of their core business operations on a voluntary basis. 
Local Economic Stimulus: This refers to the economic impact that shopping locally and engaging local suppliers, producers and providers can have on your local economy. By supporting locally-owned business, rather than nationally-owned or multinational companies, you can ensure that more money is kept in your region. Research shows that locally-owned businesses tend to support other locally-owned businesses; hence providing a stimulus for your local economy.
Sustainable Business Models: In general terms, a sustainable business model is a business model which can create value and profits for owners, shareholders and stakeholders without depleting environmental, social and human capital that it relies on.
- Social Impact: This occurs when a business, community group or individual aims to address a pressing social challenge by instigating a significant and positive change.

Since you began working in recent years and contributing to your national economy through taxes and social contributions, you have become more aware of the role that consumer play in supporting growth in businesses, but also the role that businesses play in supporting not only local economies but also local communities. You have been reading about corporate social responsibility, and the contributions that businesses make to local and regional communities through CSR. You have been inspired by stories of big business giving back. Stories like Google investing $1 billion in renewable energy projects; and Starbucks committing to hiring 25,000 veterans in the US by 2025 inspire you, and make you want to look for similar examples in your local economy. You know there are local businesses who play a vital role in your community; supporting local charities, hiring local people and sponsoring local sports teams. However, unfortunately, there are also some offenders locally which you are aware of. You are committed to investigating the social impact that local businesses have in your community, and only supporting businesses that are making a positive contribution to your local community. Once you have completed some research, you will inform your family about what you have learned and encourage them to spend their money responsibly in your local economy, giving to businesses who give back.

To complete this WebQuest, you will complete the following four steps:

  1. Conduct research into the main sectors and employers in your region
  2. Analyse the main economic players and assess the social impact that they have in your region
  3. Identify local economic players with a negative social and economic impact locally
  4. Identify local economic players with a positive social and economic impact locally
  1. Conduct research into the main sectors and employers in your region

    Your first step in investigating your local economy and ensuring you are making responsible choices when supporting local business, is first to identify the main sectors and employers in your region. You may think that this is a simple step, but often we are not aware of the many economic players who operate in our region. As a precursor to conducting your online research, create a mind-map to identify the sectors that you are aware of in your region; and the main employers in each sector that you know off-hand. For guidance on how to create a mind-map, you can use the following links:

    How to Mind Map to Visualize Your Thoughts (With Mind Map Examples):

    The Complete Guide on how to Mind Map for Beginners:

    Now that you have created a mind-map to represent the sectors and employers that you are already aware of, it is time to dig a little deeper online to identify those economic players who are operating under your radar. Local business directories are a good starting point. Like most online searches, Google is you first port of call. Use Google to find a business directory for your region, and identify the main employers and economic players in your region.

  2. Analyse the main economic players and assess the social impact that they have in your region

    Now that you have identified who the main economic players are in your local economy, it is time to investigate the social impact that they are achieving. Are their businesses who only hire local residents, who provide opportunities to early-school leavers or those with fewer opportunities; who support local fundraising and charity events; who invest in environmental causes for the benefit of your local society? These are all activities that businesses who are committed to achieving a positive social impact in their region or in society at large invest their time and money in. To support you to identify the social impact of businesses in your local economy, the following links will help you to assess how you can evaluate the social impact that local companies have in your region:

    How to Evaluate the Social & Ethical Impact of Business on Society As a Whole:

    Understanding a company’s social impact is crucial to sustainability:

    - Measuring socio-economic impact – A guide for business:

  3. Identify local economic players with a negative social and economic impact locally

    That’s great, now you have a better idea of how to assess the positive and negative social impact that local economic players are having in your region. The next step is to create a social impact evaluation matrix, where you will develop some metrics to assess which local economic players have a positive and negative social and economic impact locally. What metrics will you use? How will you fill the matrix? The following links will support you to create the matrix:

    Social Impact – What is it? How do I measure it?:

    Social Impact Metrics:

    The Outcomes Matrix:

    What is a Decision Matrix?:

    Once you have completed the matrix, take the top 10 employers from your region and complete the matrix for each to assess which businesses have a negative, or least positive, social, economic and environmental impact in your region.

  4. Identify local economic players with a positive social and economic impact locally

    Well done, now you know who the worst offenders are in your local economy and which companies do the most to support the sustainable development of your local community and economy. You have conducted research and now you know which companies are doing the most for people in your community, you have decided that you will aim to support these businesses as best as you can. You will also encourage your family members to also support these companies, and to do their part to invest in your local economy. So that you have all the facts to hand when you discuss these economic players , and the positive social impact they are achieving locally, with your family, you will now create a short case study for each of the businesses that you have assessed to have the greatest positive social impact in your region. This case study doesn’t have to be too extensive, but it should capture all of the key points you should make to your family to convince them to support these local businesses. The following links will be useful to supporting you to develop these short case studies; you may even consider creating a short video to explain to your family members why it is important to support these businesses – this will make it easier to share on your family WhatsApp group!

    Creating a Case Study:

    How to Effectively Present a Case Study:

    - 6 Ways to Make Your Case Study More Interesting:

After complete this WebQuest, I can:

Name the main local economic players in your region
Reflect about the role of local economy
Recognise the impact of local economy in demography
Relate sustainable development and the local economy
Explore the strategies local economic players had in your region
Analyse their contribution regarding the region economy
Identify their role in terms of employment
Discuss if local economic players may have other roles in their region
Encourage your family knowing more about local economic players
Evaluate main differences between local economic players and the others regarding products and services
Promote a family debate about advantages of buying from local economic players
Showcase other roles specific local economic players may have in your region

*If you answered NO to more than half of the statements, you should go through WebQuest again and acquire more knowledge and skills if you answered YES to almost all questions; congratulations on your great success!

There has been a shift in recent years; away from supporting faceless multinationals and towards shopping locally, and supporting local producers in all economic sectors. There are many economic, social and environmental benefits from shopping locally. Supporting the local economy also ensures that you get improved and more personalised customer service, and you get to know the people behind the product, while also supporting people in your community who have taken the brave step into entrepreneurship and ensuring that there are employment opportunities available for people in your community.  We all have a role to play in supporting local businesses and ensuring the success and growth of our local economy; but we also have a role to play in holding businesses in our local economy to account and ensure that as well as asking for the support of consumers, that local businesses also invest in the sustainable development of their local communities. Through this symbiotic relationship, local businesses can flourish, but can also work to address pressing social and environmental issues affecting the local community.