Gemma Davies has been appointed to the board of directors of the Institute of Economic Development, the independent body representing economic development and regeneration practitioners.
Davies, who is director of economy and housing at Cheshire West and Chester Council, has worked in the public sector for the past 16 years and this year re-joined CWAC after leaving the local authority at the end of 2016.
She led Shropshire Council’s economic growth service for almost four years, and before that had been seconded as programme director to develop the Cheshire and Warrington devolution deal on behalf of the Economic Prosperity Board, working with chief executives of the three local authorities and local enterprise partnership.
Davies said: “Through these roles, I have gathered extensive experience working with businesses, communities and partners over what has included times of significant change and complex challenges. I feel I can contribute to the IED from a professional and positional perspective.”
She added: “One area of focus, and where I can bring fresh ideas, is inclusive growth. [CWAC] is one of the first local authorities to declare a poverty emergency, and we have a sub-regional inclusive and sustainable growth commission, so there is a natural fit with the institute’s work.
“That push on community wealth, and commitment not to leave anyone behind, is a response not just to poverty but also encouraging the conditions for an economy that does not set out to create inequalities.”
As well as inclusive growth, Gemma is involved in economic renewal and recovery plans, homelessness strategy and climate change.
The IED was established around 30 years ago and its key objective is to represent the interests of economic development practitioners and ensure that their views are widely expressed and noted.
In particular, the IED works to demonstrate the value of economic development work for local and regional communities, share best practice in economic development and improve standards of professional conduct and competence.
Davies added: “I have never used IED membership more than I have in the last eight months. It has provided exposure to fundamental topics that we have been grappling with as a profession and supported the changes that members are facing in their environment.
“It also recognises the pace of that change, and ultimately helps to inform practitioners’ day-to-day roles as well as policy around areas such as spatial planning and future employment.
“Overall, the IED facilitates the opportunity to take a step back to look at and discuss the challenges. We have been in an emergency response mode through the national lockdown, and have a new round of business support grants to administer, but it is also important to take time out for strategic thinking and the IED galvanises that.”
Her role is a non-executive board membership of the IED.