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In conversation with Stantec


Ahead of next week’s IED Annual Conference, we spoke to Steven Findlay, Associate Economist at Stantec, one of our conference sponsors.

Thank you for sponsoring the IED Annual Conference. Why did you decide to do so?

“We share the IED’s vision to create stronger, sustainable economies and are passionate about using our expertise to deliver successful, equitable and resilient communities that deliver real social value to those who live, work and play in them. Stantec is one of the UK’s largest community development consultancies, employing over 2,000 staff across our offices in the UK and Ireland. We’ve secured over £1 billion in Government grant and loan funding for our clients, helping them deliver homes, stimulate innovation and tackle inequalities across the UK. We are proud to sponsor the conference which will bring together industry experts to demonstrate innovation and share best practice in economic development.”

The title of this year’s conference is ‘Supporting the Development and Levelling Up of Local Economies’. What does that mean to you?

“Levelling Up is about putting the right infrastructure in place to allow every person and every place in the UK to reach its full potential. It is not about redistribution or about sharing our nation’s wealth. Indeed, if we get it right, it will help us close our productivity gap with other industrialised economies by generating efficiency improvements for every part of the UK. These include removing the congestion and affordability constraints that are holding back the success of London and the Southeast; and creating new opportunities for the other UK nations and regions to more effectively deploy their significant human, physical and social capital assets into untapped areas of opportunity. We help our clients understand the bigger picture. There are a number of opportunities to secure the funds they need, beyond the Levelling Up Fund. In England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, other funding programmes are available to support town centre change, local transport improvements and cultural and heritage projects as well as other interventions.  Understanding this bigger funding picture can be valuable in supporting strategic infrastructure planning at a local level. Check out our related article, Are you getting the help you need to level up?

What aspects of the conference are you especially looking forward to?

“I’m looking forward to meeting fellow economic development professionals and learning more about the challenges they are facing and the ideas they have for making their area a better place. At Stantec we are committed to developing innovative solutions and creating better places. Our latest research focuses on delivering better place outcomes through the use of open data at the heart of the planning system.”

What do you think the next 18 months holds for economic development professionals?

“We seem to say this every year, but the next 18 months will be another period of great uncertainty. Uncertainty about our new Prime Minister and Cabinet, and what it means for the Levelling Up Agenda; uncertainty about the economy, and what a weak pound, rising energy and construction costs and slowing demand mean for our projects; and uncertainty about climate change, and how future severe weather events and just transition measures will impact upon different parts of the country. At Stantec, we will be following political developments closely and sharing our thoughts through Community Connections, our ideas hub.”

What services does Stantec provide that may be able to help them?

“Stantec’s economics team can help you to identify, develop and make the case for your economic development interventions. We support our clients at every stage of the project development process, from the development of your economic development strategy and investment plan, to the negotiation of the town deal and growth deal funding agreements to the preparation of the strategic, outline and final business cases. This summer, we developed 41 applications to the Levelling Up Fund on behalf of 28 local authorities, while in 2021, £1 in every £7 of Levelling Up Funding awarded in the UK, and over half of the Levelling Up Funding awarded in Scotland went to projects where Stantec helped to develop the application form. Our wider team of multi-disciplinary professionals offer a one-stop solution, with all the expertise you need to take your project from the conceptualisation to the pre-construction stages. This includes experts in the fields of flood risk, biodiversity and environmental assessment, transport modelling, design, engineering and planning. You can find more information on our Funding Opportunities Toolkit here.”

Tickets for the IED Annual Conference, ‘Supporting the Development and Levelling Up of Local Economics’, on 6th October, are available to IED member and non-members here.