The Role of Place-Based Enterprise in Fostering Local Economic Development


In an era of globalization, preserving the unique character and vitality of local communities has become more important than ever. Place-Based Enterprise is the answer to the challenge of promoting local businesses and nurturing vibrant communities. As policy practitioners and project managers, understanding the significance of Place-Based Enterprise is crucial in shaping the future of local economic development. In this blog post, we will explore the core tenets of place-based enterprise and its role in fostering sustainable growth and community pride.

What is Place-Based Enterprise?

Place-based enterprise revolves around the idea that local communities can thrive by promoting businesses that celebrate their unique history, environment, culture, and economy. Also known as experiential enterprise or community-based enterprise, this approach recognizes the need to preserve a "sense of place" and offers a sustainable framework for economic development.

Mega Trends: The Experience Economy

The emergence of the experience economy has highlighted the importance of authentic character and unique stories in driving profitable business opportunities for the future. Place-based enterprise aligns with this trend by emphasizing the value of the integrated experience of commerce interactions within a specific location. By leveraging these local experiences, businesses can tap into the thriving market led by the experience economy.

Addressing Macro Challenges

Place-based enterprise not only caters to the experience economy but also responds to macro challenges such as global warming, technological advancements, and the universal movement towards ethical business practices. By merging the art of placemaking with the economic realities of commerce, this approach promotes both sustainable environmental practices and the well-being of the local community.

Local Community Benefits

An essential aspect of place-based enterprise is striking a balance between private interests and public resources. Instead of granting unrestricted access to cultural and environmental assets, place-based enterprise strategies prioritise corporate incentives alongside local and public incentives. This approach ensures that the local community benefits from enterprise development activities, fostering the creation of quality jobs for local residents.

Edge-Town Networks

Place-based enterprise offers a promising strategy for towns on the periphery of growth corridors or larger urban centers. By encouraging smaller-scale, networked enterprises, this approach unlocks economic opportunities that leverage the unique benefits of local communities. This networked approach provides long-term viability to smaller communities within regions, complementing the existing larger urban centers.

Protecting Lifestyle and Growing Jobs

Smaller towns often struggle to compete with cities that naturally attract more growth opportunities. For these towns, place-based enterprise initiatives present a means to secure a vital future while preserving their local values and lifestyle. By focusing on fostering local economic development, place-based enterprise serves as a framework for creating a sustainable balance between protecting the community's way of life and generating employment opportunities.

The Role of Public Infrastructure

Public infrastructure plays a critical role in delivering successful place-based enterprise initiatives. To rebuild private sector confidence in stressed or declining centers, upfront investment in public infrastructure acts as a catalyst for new business activity. A strategic framework that strengthens the local community and provides leverage for private sector investment is necessary to create a ripple effect of economic growth.

Delivering the Promise: A Focused Vision

Place-based enterprise strategies are centered around maintaining the integrity of the community's vision throughout the delivery process. From facilitation to evaluation, each phase requires a commitment to delivering on the promise of change made to the community. By embodying the principles of place-based enterprise throughout the entire process, policy practitioners and project managers can witness real transformation and community-driven outcomes.


Place-based enterprise represents an innovative approach to local economic development, fostering authentic local enterprise based on intrinsic community values. By merging "soft" people processes with "hard" project outcomes and prioritizing both placemaking and town center economics, this strategy allows communities to build vibrant, sustainable, and economically prosperous futures. As policy practitioners and project managers, embracing place-based enterprise can lead to increased business activity, appealing town centers, strengthened communities, and an overall sense of pride.

Author: Robert Prestipino RLA MPIA ACEcD

Robert Prestipino is passionate about creating places that will thrive in the future. He is a qualified Urban Designer, Registered Landscape Architect, Corporate member of the Planning Institute of Australia, and an Australian Certified Economic Developer with over 35 years experience in place-shaping projects.

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