What is CED?

CED is framed differently in different communities around Canada, and indeed the world, and there are many terms and definitions to define community economic development.

The Canadian CED Network ( has defined CED as the following:

Creating vibrant, resilient and sustainable local economies.

Community Economic Development (CED) is action by people locally to create economic opportunities and better social conditions, particularly for those who are most disadvantaged.

CED is an approach that recognizes that economic, environmental and social challenges are interdependent, complex and ever-changing.

To be effective, solutions must be rooted in local knowledge and led by community members. CED promotes holistic approaches, addressing individual, community and regional levels, recognizing that these levels are interconnected.

CED is focused on improving a local economy’s ability to serve its people.  In this context, CED shares many of the goals of the conventional market economy; for example CED strives to develop viable and profitable businesses, to attain efficient production standards and to generate wealth.  However CED also seeks to balance commercial objectives with the broader social, economic an environmental needs of communities.  CED projects take a wider view in establishing their goals and objectives, beyond narrow commercial considerations.  CED is fundamentally concerned with meeting people’s needs.  The following table reflects the difference in emphases between CED and conventional market economy priorities:

CED priorities Market economic priorities
Integrate social, economic and environmental objectives Maximize profits of individual private businesses
Meet community needs Respond primarily to consumer dollars
Mutual help / co-operation Highly competitive
Local economic linkages and ties to community Capital mobility / flexibility of location
Local ownership and control; shared-decision making Flexibility of ownership
Balanced, equitable and sustainable economic development Rapid economic growth / increases in commercial output
Social equality; empowerment Concentration of wealth and power
Focus on job creation and stability Return on capital investment
Household and volunteer production viewed as valuable Exclusive focus on commercial production