A message from the EDAS Chair
2023 is coming to an end and it is time to reflect on another busy and successful year for EDAS, and look toward 2024 and beyond.
As incoming Chair in July, I was met with great warmth, and in speaking with Board, members and many people across Scotland over the last 6 months I have grown to understand and appreciate how energetic and strong the economic development community is, and the key role that EDAS plays and has played in that. EDAS has a very positive and warranted reputation, forged by its members and the services it offers. This is testament to the work of you all, the board, core team, and of course previous boards and Chairs – with special thanks to the previous chair Liz McEntee.
This year EDAS has continued to be a key catalyst for Economic Development, learning and growth. Working with over 3,250 members and our network across Scotland we have informed, trained, provided knowledge and expertise through our busy events and communications programme and facilitated effective conversations that make a real difference to the practice of economic development. But of course, there has been challenges as you, our members, responded effectively to the needs of people, places, businesses, and communities. All of this has taken place within a context of significant turbulence with the ongoing and deepening climate crises, global economic travails, war in Ukraine and Gaza and an energy and cost of living crisis that continues to affect many Scots and people throughout the world. In these turbulent (and sometimes fearful times), EDAS continues to play an important role in supporting members to understand and navigate this context and ensure Economic Development and our practice continues to do what it can to make life better for all Scots and forge an economy that genuinely works for people, places and planet. In this, EDAS has continued our focus on regular events and increased the number we provided during the year in line with the emerging issues and demand from our member base. Our Continuing Professional Development (CPD) courses, were in high demand and brought excellent reviews throughout the year and we continue to adapt our learning offer to reflect the external operating environment, so that content is always up to date and relevant.
Our Talking EDAS Podcast offers dialogue and opinion with many of the experts and commentators we connect with through our events series. This continues to be well received and really brings to life the issues EDAS members are interested in and new podcasts for 2024 are already in the pipeline.
Across the year over our regular events and CPD programme, we have delivered 22 sessions to almost 1,100 attendees. Our members have benefitted from free or substantially reduced events and over 26 Parliamentary briefings have been distributed. We look forward to strengthening our Board with three new appointments to be announced in early 2024.
In looking ahead, we know the next year will be challenging for economic development, given the pressures already being placed on public sector budgets, and the continuing climate change and global economic turbulence. We recognise that demand on our discipline is relentless and growing with members often tasked to do more with less. The board of EDAS is acutely aware of this and was discussed at our recent board meeting. This informs our strategy for the next 3 years and the annual operating plans. Therefore, we will ensure that what we offer to members is relevant and helpful and represents value in meeting your needs in this complex, fiscally challenged and ever-changing environment.
In this, EDAS believes that in moving forward economic development should play an even bigger role in shaping Scotland’s wellbeing economy, with community wealth as the key practice of delivery. As I said in taking up the Chair position, Economic development affects the lives of all Scots: affecting our careers, leisure, work, where we live, and the kind of life we want to lead. It is important in coming year(s) that we both reinforce this relevance and grow recognition of it within many more people and across the public, private and community/third sectors..
In this, we have an exciting new Future Leaders Network to develop. This offers people who are early on in their economic development career the chance to exchange information and knowledge: coming together in a mutually shared environment. Run by future leaders, this will not only be a resource for its members, but also feed into the main EDAS activities, helping to keep economic development fresh and relevant with an eye on what it could/should become. We also have unfolding plans to introduce more debates and dialogue. We feel that we need more spaces by which we can share and work through the challenges of these times. EDAS can and will offer a nonpartisan space by which ideas and issues can be explored. We are also seeking new potential partners, and relationships in Scotland and globally. We feel that we have much to learn from economic and place development elsewhere across the world, recognising that new ideas and innovations are taking place beyond these shores and we must continually seek out those, share and learn.
EDAS is a vital but small organisation and we rely heavily on an active board to support a very small team. I’d like to thank our fabulous EDAS board of directors; our skilled core team at Brightstar; our professional communications support through Message Matters; our valued partners in 2023 (Scottish Enterprise; Skills Development Scotland; Highlands and Islands Enterprise and South of Scotland Enterprise; Crown Estate Scotland and Zero Waste Scotland); our knowledgeable academic partners at the University of Glasgow and the Fraser of Allander Institute and especially you, our members, for your continued loyalty and support.
As ever, if you have any suggestions for EDAS, or would like to join us, please get in touch.
Finally, on behalf of the EDAS board and staff, I would like to wish you a fun, safe and peaceful festive break and a healthy and prosperous new year.
With kind regards