English: Despite the urgent need for local economic development in South Africa, Local
Economic Development (LED) as area of professional endeavour/activity has largely
failed to live up to this need. In this article, an alternative approach to local economic
development, which involved a ‘bottom-up’ approach to urban renewal is explored.
The urban renewal work of the Mandela Bay Development Agency (MBDA) in
the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality is used as a case study of a
‘successful example of an LED-initiative’. By taking into account the needs of the
customer (or local community), a respect for difference, a conscious drive to ensure
participation of, and benefit for all affected parties, keeping the eye on the ball, a
desire to learn and innovate, and a pragmatic action-orientation, the MBDA achieved
success in its local economic development initiatives.
The value of this article lies in the experience of lessons learned, the overall
understanding of urban planning, and the necessity for urban planning to respond to
the local economy of a particular city.