Launching development agency

Skill area: Strategic consultancy

Objective: Dialogue with stakeholders

Before this brand new Agency was launched, a cultural challenge had to be resolved. A task previously managed by public servants - economic development officers - was now to be managed in a “partnership” with private sector stakeholders. This created some conflicts.
 
The team needed to bond. Politics and rivalries had to be set aside. And the support of the local community - politicians, educationalists and business community included - had to be harnessed for it to achieve its aims. We were part of a team that turned a nebulous concept and a divided team into a centre of focus - a centre that the most influential individuals wanted to support and be associated with.
 
This was a hearts and mind campaign, but it started with hard facts: a survey that revealed a spiralling unemployment problem facing the county. This was presented to community and business leaders at events, with the media present. “Summit workshops”, hosted by a dynamic economic development guru, whipped up ideas and support from delegates, many of whom volunteered to run other economic regeneration schemes. 

Over four years, we generated masses of positive media comment and projected an image of success, confidence and dedication to regenerate the county’s economy. Local newspaper editors backed the campaign personally.
 
We launched the GDA in London to the property community. The national coverage directly led to inward investment. Within a few months, internal disputes over turf and budgets had been forgotten. The GDA became a model for the West of England RDA which was set up later.
 
George Irvine, who ran the GDA, said: “Gravitas has done an excellent job in raising public awareness of the key issues facing the local economy. Their personal service and understanding of the issues we are seeking to address is first class”.