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LSED Kickoff Convention – June 2012 Summary
In June 2012, Shatil hosted Project WEALTH: Promoting Local Sustainable Economic Development's Kickoff Convention. Representatives of all Project WEALTH partners.
The Commission for Regional Development and Cross Border Cooperation of the Puglia Region, Italy; CRIA the Center for Innovation at the University of the Algarve; Lunaria; as well as our strategic partners in the development of LSED programs in the Negev took part in the convention; which was held over the course of a week in Beer Sheva, Mitzpe Ramon, Bethlehem and Jerusalem.

The first day of the Convention was dedicated to joint learning processes examining issues such as: LSED development through cross-sector partnerships, an issue presented by Francesco Palumbo of Region Puglia; an introduction to the fundamental principles of LSED provided by Elizabeth Cox of the New Economic Fund and Dr. Gili Baruch, Director of Project WEALTH; an analysis of test cases and brainstorming for new LSED initiatives e.g. economic development disregarding natural resources. The day concluded with the official launch of Project WEALTH at the "Negev Artists House".

The second day included a roundtable focusing on dissemination of information and knowledge from academia to small and medium sized businesses, an issue which our partners at CRIA of Algarve University specialize in. Participants in the roundtable included Academics, civil society representatives, social activists and public officials as well as Project WEALTH's international partners. Roundtable discussions developed into a comprehensive discourse focusing on the Negev's unique characteristics, challenges facing Negev development, and methods of strengthening relations between the academic and business worlds. Prof. Dafna Schwartz, Director of the Bengis Center for Entrepreneurship and High-Tech and Dr. Miki Malul of the Department of Public Policy and Administration at Ben Gurion University, led discussions. Later, we held a site visit to different LSED initiatives in the Negev including the Bedouin Heritage Center in Tel Sheva, Yerucham Lake and the "Hoopoe" Center in Yerucham. Evening activities concluded in Mitzpe Ramon.

Day Three's activities took place in Mitzpe Ramon and focused on alternative measurements for economic development and on presentation of a tool kit developed by NEF. Sergio Andreis of Lunaria opened the day with a presentation of QUARS, an alternative index for evaluating regional development. The principal questions raised addressed the feasibility of implementing such indexes in the Negev and in work with national and regional authorities and the indexes potential impact.
During the second half of the day, Elizabeth Cox of NEF presented a variety of tools that can be implemented in community work to facilitate policy change, e.g. LM3 a local multiplier that measures the time frame funds provided benefit the local community before being diverted to other regions; the Leaky Bucket Theory, which examines methods of ensuring that money provided to local communities is retained and benefits the region; or BizFizz which provides community support for local business initiatives.

On Day Four we participated in a site visit, where we examined dried fruit initiative.
We are sure that the Kickoff Convention enthused project partners and motivated them to begin work in earnest. Thank you to all the participants who took part in the Convention and made their voices heard.

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