The REGINA Local Benefit Analysis Toolbox (LBAT) helps communities maximise the local benefits from resource-based industrial development. When new industrial projects take shape, local growth can e.g. be achieved by creating businesses in the industry’s supply chain or in complementary sectors, and if an important industry closes down, the key is to diversify the workforce and use local knowledge and skills to create new opportunities.

 
 

Ripple effects of industrial development

The REGINA LBAT guides communities through everything from gathering data about the local economy, business and employment to involving the business community in identifying new opportunities. In Alstahaug in Norway, the local benefit analysis has evolved around a recently established oil and gas supply base, which has already created ripple effects in the area.

“Our municipality has gone through important development in recent years,” says Stig-Göran Olsen, Municipal Director and Head of Alstahaug’s Department of Business. “We’ve seen large investments in the oil and gas sector, which has encouraged further investment in our community, such as in new infrastructure, increased accommodation capacity and a culture house, which serves as a venue for conferences, concerts and other cultural activities for the local population.”

Together with four neighbouring municipalities, Alstahaug has developed a joint business development strategy based on input from local businesses in all five municipalities.

“This strategic approach has enabled us to prepare in the best way possible for the new oil and gas supply service base. We’ve increased capacity in the planning department, offered building sites for new homes, extended the airport runway and provided new infrastructure to be able to meet the needs of the industry.”

“Developing good local business development strategies requires close co-operation with the local business community,” Olsen adds. “The REGINA LBAT provides structure and predictability to the process, which is vital to the businesses when planning for expansion.”

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More efficient innovation processes

The LBAT has also been used in Brønnøy, a strong mining area for more than a century and home to an aquaculture industry with an annual production of around 20,000 tonnes of farmed salmon. Moreover, Brønnøy is working on further developing the local tourism industry.

“Innovation processes in small communities often come to a halt because the enthusiasm doesn’t last or because bureaucracy wears them out,” says local project manager John-Arne Warholm. “With tools like this, the process becomes less person-dependent. It ensures a systematic and continuous approach to long-term business development.”

“The REGINA LBAT provides structure and predictability to the process, which is vital to the businesses when planning for expansion.”

The REGINA LBAT offers a wide range of tools, quantitative as well as qualitative, including a SWOT analysis to assess the community’s competitive position. The priorities identified by the local business community in the analysis will be the backbone of Brønnøy’s new business development strategy, focusing on opportunities in mining, aquaculture and tourism.

Increased professionalism makes communities attractive

When faced with large-scale industrial projects, such as mining and oil extraction, Olsen emphasizes the importance for small communities like Alstahaug and Brønnøy to come prepared.

“When big industry actors come to our community, they’re highly professional in their approach and backed by a very powerful organisation,” he says. “If you want to service these large companies, such as oil and operations companies, there’s an international framework of rules that requires you to attain a whole other level of professionalism. Our municipality is now dealing with more complex and challenging projects, which makes us more attractive as a workplace.”

“The REGINA LBAT provides structure and predictability to the process, which is vital to the businesses when planning for expansion.”

Diversification of the local workforce

Another REGINA partner with LBAT experience is located in Scotland. In response to the ongoing closure of the Dounreay nuclear power complex, an important driver of the local economy, the area around Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters has shifted its focus towards marine renewables. Combined with the existing nuclear expertise, the shift is intended to replace some of the jobs lost in the nuclear power industry.

“We’ve got a strong knowledge base, not only on nuclear power plant operations but also with regards to closing a nuclear complex,” says Magnus Davidson of the Environmental Research Institute at the University of Highlands and Islands. “There’s been a real push by economic agencies and others to look into how the local supply chain can continue working in the nuclear industry elsewhere, but also how these companies can diversify into other large-scale industries.”

The area has now become world leading in the development of marine energy and is host to the European Marine Energy Centre, an advanced test centre for wave and tidal energy technology.

“Diversifying the workforce and the local supply chain is a complex task,” says Davidson. “Using the REGINA LBAT has allowed us to address this challenging predicament armed with the best available data and the best available tools.”

Education and liveability are key attractors

Another major issue for rural areas is that young people move away for education and do not return afterwards. Retaining local benefits from industrial developments is therefore also about providing relevant education and training options, as well as social, cultural and recreational activities for the locals.

“To attract young people, it’s vital to be able to offer them interesting jobs and a vibrant and dynamic community,” says Svein Morten Eilertsen, researcher at NIBIO, the Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research. “Previously, we’ve seen valuable competences disappear out of the region, but now, young people can see that it’s possible to return and find interesting jobs.”


The REGINA LBAT is one of three key planning resources that were developed as part of the REGINA Local Smart Specialisation Strategy – LS3. The aim is to empower small and remote communities by giving them planning tools to better deal with the introduction of large-scale resource-based industrial projects or for that matter with the socio-economic change following the closure of an important local industry.