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Greg Clark, renowned expert and thought leader shared his insights into Regional Economic Development at a recent Special Guest Seminar hosted by MILE in partnership with eThekwini’s Economic Development and Investment Promotion Unit (EDIPU).
In his presentation Clark posed the question “What should be the strategy for a third city in a medium sized country?” He made reference to key factors that affect the growth of cities and region: Population Growth and Competitiveness.
Clark noted that globally, developing cities are grappling with population growth. He suggested that planners could react in one of three ways; build more cities, extend our cities or better our cities. The core of our mandate should ultimately be to better our cities.
He mentioned that there is an increasing focus on competitiveness globally. The concentration of success, however, is in smaller geographical spaces around the world. City and regional leaders need to think not only about competitiveness but also what to retain, what assets to keep and what to defend when faced with various challenges.
Each country is following either the Traditional Model or New Model. Clark suggested that South Africa has a model of regional development that encompasses both the traditional and modern approaches. Successful regional development requires a high level of flexible organisation.  Regional roles in National Development – KZN has a distinctive characteristic compared to other provinces in SA. It’s about bringing together regions that have complimentary characteristics.
Greg Clark encouraged officials to extend the conversation and not underestimate the value of the exchange. With the challenge in defining the region, it would be recommended to keep it flexible. The City is presently looking at strategy and how it feeds into various plans. In the process of establishing a municipal planning commission, senior officials must apply their minds to rationalising and streamlining issues in connecting the region, a leader must be identified. Moving forward, it is critical for the City to establishing what the brand name of the region is going to be, who is going to leverage the brand and determining whether an alliance can be built with that brand. These issues will be unpacked at a future seminar.
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