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PACA

PACA

Participatory Appraisal of Competitive Advantages (PACA)
Local economic development (LED) is at the same time a simple and a difficult task. It is simple because the necessary concepts and instruments are available and widely documented in the literature. There is nothing particularly magic or intrinsically complicated about it. It is difficult because its success is based on the active involvement of many actors, and the successful communication and coordination among them. Local economic development can only to a limited extent be delegated to salaried professionals. Therefore, motivation is a crucial issue. This is the first point of departure of PACA.
A successful local economic development initiative relies to a substantial extent on voluntary work – businesspeople, government executives, and representatives of civic associations and other organizations spending time in meetings and doing work which often is unpaid. Any LED initiative is therefore in need of visible, tangible results, and preferably quick results.
Quick and tangible results motivate local actors to dedicate more of their time. Therefore, coming up with viable, practical, quickly implementable proposals is a crucial goal at the beginning of any LED initiative. This is the second point of departure of PACA, and it is why PACA includes a method to do a quick appraisal of local economy, which should take no more than two weeks.
A successful local economic development initiative builds on the motivation of individuals to pursue some project as well as the willingness and ability of many individuals to formulate a shared vision which is guiding the projects. Also, many projects will only work if several individuals work together. It does not make sense to suggest projects that local actors do not find plausible, and it does not make sense to suggest projects which involve the collaboration of actors who cannot imagine working with each other. Thus, the aim to come up with a diagnostic not only of economic potentials and challenges but also of a clear idea of the capacity, motivation, and cooperative spirit of key actors is the third point of departure of PACA.