29 July 2015 Volume :3 Issue :35

Local Recognition for the GSB&L’s Local Economic Development Project

Local Recognition for the GSB&L’s Local Economic Development Project
A KZN Top Business Award for the GSB&L’s Regional and Local Economic Development Initiative.

The Regional and Local Economic Development Initiative (RLEDI) housed under the UKZN Graduate School of Business and Leadership (GSB&L) received recognition at home when it was awarded a KZN Top Business Award last week at a Gala Dinner hosted by the KZN Top Business Portfolio.

The awards aim to celebrate and recognise business and organisational success across the economic sectors in both private and public arenas. Out of 14 categories the RLED Initiative was applauded for reflecting the importance of the effective inter-agency collaboration and partnership it has with KZN Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (EDTEA) - this was an encouraging endorsement for the GSB&L and EDTEA.

According to the RLEDI Project Manager, Dr Jennifer Houghton, the programme arose from the realisation that, despite good socio-economic policies and strategies, provincial and local governments are marked by a minimal capacity in driving these policies forward.  This compounds RLED challenges in the province.

Houghton said that in order to develop and deliver a more systematic, professional and institutionalised capacity-building competency in RLED in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, a Capacity Building and Institutional Development plan had to be developed. The result was the design and development in 2009 of two multi-disciplinary postgraduate programmes focusing on LED.

Houghton said: ‘We are a small team which pulls together with great enthusiasm to work on a suite of projects and activities that are intended to build capacity for economic development within KwaZulu-Natal. This recognition from within our province has meant a great deal to the RLED team because it reflects that we are making a difference which is becoming increasingly evident in the regional economy.’

Currently, the RLEDI Team is completing a four year phase of the project and a proposal has been made to EDTEA to extend the current initiative for a further four years.  It will also expand its projects to include a stronger emphasis on entrepreneurship, small businesses, and the formation of an information network to support economic development in the province - in line with the goals of both the Province and the University.

The Dean and Head of the GSB&L, Professor Theuns Pelser said: ‘We are delighted to have received this Top Business Award in the Private Public Partnership category. All credit however, must go to Dr Jennifer Houghton and her team for driving this partnership with the EDTEA. I am very proud of the RLEDI under the leadership of Dr Houghton, for this very important ambassadorial role it is playing.’

For the RELD Initiative to be recognised at home was a humbling experience for the GSB&L as well as EDTEA - the initiative has already been recognised by the International Partnerships Network in 2014 for the best partnership in Africa in the development of entrepreneurship and enterprise skills development.

Hazel Langa

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