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Commercial Local Urban District Programme

Final Report Summary - CLUDS (Commercial Local Urban District Programme)

The CLUDs project, financed within 7FP Marie Curie IRSES programme 2010, aimed at identifying which factors can play determinant roles in performing urban regeneration initiatives and which values can influence their success from an integrated perspective, according to sustainable development principles. In particular, the research intended to demonstrate how the enhancement of local commercial activities (for example, handcrafts and food) performs urban regeneration initiatives towards the reinforcement of local economy, as a way of securing more sustainable urban-rural policy arenas. Starting from the area-based approach featuring urban regeneration initiatives, the research has connected the logic of urban districts and community area to the logic of the urban-rural network. The urban area subject to regeneration process is related to local small-retail associations occurred on typical local production.
The central focus was the study of different forms of Public Private Partnerships used in urban regeneration initiates with the scope to analysed how the positive effects generated in a specific urban area can be distributed at regional level, by including the urban-rural linkages.
The theoretical hypothesis of the CLUDs project is the concept that in order to increase sustainability in urban regeneration it is important to create a network of producers-sellers, focused on urban regeneration area as competitiveness platforms, but at the same time strictly linked to the surrounding territory, and capable to exploit the potential of territorial milieu.

The intent of generating wider effects in terms of economic development at macro-level (regional thereby) trough urban regeneration initiatives has been eluded by the strong local interests even if not homogenous among each others. In order to reach a feasible consensus among all actors involved, the common objective became the job creation to which converge all different urban problems and solutions. Consequently, the sustainability of urban regeneration initiatives is still at the centre of political and academic debate. Economic sustainability, environmental sustainability and social sustainability provide criteria for such indicators to measure the urban regeneration performance.
The CLUDs project has introduced the concept of “milieu” to offer a different source of sustainability within urban regeneration initiatives, that is the connections with the surrounding rural areas in order to reinforce the local economy.

In order to achieve the aforementioned general pursue, the CLUDs project have been articulated in three specific objectives:
1. Setting up an analytical process to understand how Public Private Partnership can be both marketable and social sustainable by highlighting integrated approach related to Credit access, local resources promotion, job creation, social activation;
2. Setting up an analytical process to understand how a territorial milieu can reinforce local urban regeneration initiatives;
3. Classifying levels of flows’ intensity from territorial production and local consumption that can be explained by CLUDs rationale.

The attached figure 1 explains the theoretical framework of the research activities and the value added coming from the selection of two US universities: the Northeastern University of Boston – Department of economics because of economic, financial, credit aspects related to different forms of PPP; San Diego State University because of the strong connection of public policy and city planning with the community led approach.

In the first year the CLUDs has emphasized the role of the urban district as catalyst of mixed partnership forms, according to a spatial urban configuration.
Boston has a strong district logic in the urban planning instruments , connected and integrated with economic development strategies.
In order to understand what are the key factors of PPP initiatives, we analyzed 12 case studies distributed in different districts of the metropolitan area of Boston. The explanatory variables used to build the conceptualisation framework are articulated in 3 blocks: socioeconomic Welfare, Housing, Economic Potentials
What emerged is a substantial difference between Europe and the U.S. in strategic contexts of use of forms of PPP with respect to these factors: managerial autonomy, procedures / bureaucracy, Public private relationship (the institutional role played by public sector and private sector), Leadership (public vs. private). The main result, however, is the substantial difference between Europe and the USA in the role played by nonprofit organizations in urban regeneration initiatives. The distinction between PPP and NGO could represent a driver to better understand which could be the model more suitable for Commercial Local Urban District connected with local production. In a very generally way, we can argue that, in Europe, the NGO (non profit organization) seems to play a role more connected with social purposes (see for example the programs under structural funds), while the PPP, in its strictly meaning, plays the main role in urban regeneration process as driver to enhance competitiveness.In other words, NGO more direct to convergence policy, PPP more direct to competitiveness policy.
On the basis of the case study analysis, we can argue that in USA both instruments (PPP and NGO) play a role to enhance competitiveness, the difference is based on community/business led and infrastructure led.

In the second year the CLUDs project emphasizes the roles of the community and of the localized production system to foster local economic development through the connection of urban regeneration to milieu concept. San Diego has a strong community led approach in the urban planning instruments , connected and integrated with economic development strategies. In order to understand what are the key factors of community led approach, we analyzed 12 case studies distributed in different community plan in San Diego. In order to demonstrate how territorial milieu plays an important role in reinforcing local economy by generating a surplus of public benefits, we considered four spatial dimensions of the urban/rural system: accessibility, attractiveness, local system production and surplus of social benefits. Their combination aims at setting the rationale of territorial milieu, generating a surplus of social benefits, coming from sustainable initiatives of regeneration enhanced by the urban rural interaction.
The Conceptual paradigm is depicted in the attached figure 2.

The research activities have been conducted by involving local stakeholder since the beginning of the project. Two main events have been organized to intercept the demand of local stakeholder about the integrated approach applied in urban regeneration initiatives. The first event “Open Days – CLUDs project” has been articulated in 1 round table with local institutions (from region to municipalities) and two focus groups with local private and public organizations. The objective of the round table was to understand how public action, through the building up of policies and tools, responds to the need to activate forms of PPP and to what extent each policy sector considers the involvement of private sector in the sustainable urban regeneration process as a strategic measure. A questionnaire has been submitted in order to focus the discussion. The first focus group “Smart local marketing and Urban Rural link” aimed to explore the relationship between agriculture and cities in a multidisciplinary approach, to propose an alternative approach to the global market, to create inter-exchange networks market/territory by recasting the urban rural connections. The second focus group “Smart local marketing and Sustainable Urban Regeneration” aimed to investigate possible forms of PPP in urban transformation processes in Calabria, to explore alternative business organizations capable to enhance the quality of services provided, to design new roles for cities, suitable to make them act as incubators for creative enterprises rooted in the local indentity and suitable to fully exploit the potential of the territorial resources.
The second event “Economic Development Strategies. The role of PPP” has been articulated as a join initiative between research institutions and development policy administrative sectors. The focus was how to make effective the relationship between research and development. The International Doctorate “Urban Regeneration and Economic Development” has been launched in that occasion as a joined initiative between Marie Curie IRSES Action and European Social Funds.
The other events have been concentrated to strengthen the CLUDs network by involving also the Chamber of Commerce of Reggio Calabria Province as steady partner of the project.

In the third year the CLUDs project focused by merged the WP2 and WP3 research activities on the connection between the project and the new context of Urban Dimension within Europe 2020 strategy. The contribution of the CLUDs project to Europe 2020 strategy, within the sustainable urban development is related to: The rationale of district for the implementation of ITI (Integrated Territorial Investment).
The rationale of the community led approach for the implementation of CLLD (Community -Led Local Development).

Socioeconomic impact:
In terms of Transfer of Knowledge, the CLUDs project had a strong impact. Thanks to the established network of the research project has been possible realising a real connection between development policies and research policies through the realisation of the International Doctorate in Urban Regeneration and Economic Development. . Thanks to the CLUDs project, it was possible to activate a specific measure of the ESF OP 2007-2013 Calabria Region concerning the empowerment of international research network. The international doctorate is open to 6 European graduated students and 6 graduated students of Third Countries. Each European graduated student will receive a fellowship to attend courses in the field of urban regeneration and economic development at the University of Reggio Calabria and at the Northeastern University of Boston. The faculty staff is composed by professors coming from the universities of the CLUDs network.