The Institute of Economic Development (IED) has added Kettering Borough Council’s Principal Regeneration Officer to its board of directors. Greg Ward, who re-joined Kettering last year after 10 years away with South Northamptonshire Council where he worked as Senior Economic Growth Officer and Economic Development Officer, has also previously held posts at Northamptonshire County Council and Newark and Sherwood District Council.
A full member of the IED since 2013, Greg describes himself an economic development “generalist”, covering a broad range of related disciplines from inward investment and town centre regeneration to employment initiatives and promoting the visitor economy. “Throughout my career I have been involved in development, from sport to community to education to economic development, but have always had a passion for making things better with good ideas,” he said. “I believe the time is right to capitalise on the collective knowledge and capability the IED possesses, through its members, to help shape the economic environment in an uncertain future. I am honoured to have the opportunity to support this as a Director.”
With “lots of passionate economic development professionals”, Greg paid tribute to the role the IED has played during the Covid-19 pandemic and called for the Institute to grasp the opportunities that will undoubtedly emerge. “Seeing the response of the IED in times of crisis, and knowing its role, has increased that sense of belonging and its relevance to the wider world,” he explained. “It has proven itself to be a flexible, portable organisation, not least in virtual provision such as webinars and CPD. Whenever there is a crash there is either despair or opportunity. We are at a crossroads in terms of our choice of pushing what economic development can do, broadly or specifically, but in my view we have a real opportunity to demonstrate the relevance of our sector.”
Greg said there was a “route in from the knowledge base” which could be exploited. “Even before Covid-19 I have used IED papers to shape strategy and economic development initiatives, whilst having signed up to various IED CPD over the years this has been really useful and given me a chance to see how others are setting up too,” he revealed. “Going forward, I firmly believe in translating academic research, studies and business intelligence into practical initiatives that can be delivered into the marketplace, complementing the important lobbying work that the Institute is so well known for.”
Highlighting the IED’s call for economic development to be a statutory function as a prime example of that, Greg added: “Economy and business needs good support, more so than ever, and there is a window of opportunity to think differently. With good leadership and good planning we can have a vision in business and for the economy for better futures, and apply this more closely with local authorities and bigger commerce through effective collaboration.”
As well as the enhanced “professional overlay” with organisations championing the key issues, Greg identified a need for the IED to “retain what it is doing well and move forward with relevant offerings”. He concluded: “For what we get in return, membership is very good value for money – but there are always opportunities to innovate. Having also worked in the commercial world I can bring new perspectives from that too.”