In our approach to growing regional communities, Strategic Economic Solutions takes an unorthodox view – we look at where economics meets people. One of our continuing goals is to make economics work for people, especially for people who are typically disenfranchised from large scale economic changes and restructuring. Two key groups falling into this category are small businesses and regional communities. This goal of understanding and informing underpinned the book written by Kim Houghton in 1997 – Jobs in Our Regions: Building on the Small Business Base.
The unorthodoxy in our approach comes from understanding economics well enough to know both its strengths and limitations. We do a lot of quantitative analysis, as we believe it is crucial to be able to understand the scale of changes and impacts on businesses and economies. But we also tie in qualitative work, based usually on bottom-up work with individuals and groups, to ensure that the quantitative economic analysis that we do is firmly grounded in the communities that are affected.
We are perhaps unusual consultants in that we are not just driven by client briefs – we have commissioned a lot of our own work and engaged partners to answer questions that we think have been important, but which others have not yet recognised. To that end we have invested our own time and money in new work, as well as finding like-minded organisations to help cover the costs of other investigations.
Some examples are work we initiated in 2004 and 2005 on two groups who influence regional economies but who are often left out – women in business and young entrepreneurs. This work was funded by the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation and the reports are available here: 04-130 Women in Business in Rural and Remote and 05-099 BOSS.
Other examples are our developing the SpringBoard small and home-based business development program; the Small Town Renewal package of motivation, leadership and business skills; and the Small Business Futures package of informative and motivational workshops for small and home-based businesses.
We are delighted that we have gained a reputation for being not just competent and thorough, but for being flexible, creative and communicative.