As the lead agency in the BC-Alberta Social Economy Research Alliance (BALTA), CCCR is investing in research and development to enable the emergence of system-wide, multi-stakeholder strategies to support sustainable community economic development.

BALTA is a regional research collaboration amongst community based organizations, universities and colleges in Alberta and British Columbia, Canada, with an interest in the social economy. BALTA's mandate involves researching various aspects of the social economy with a view to both increasing knowledge about the sector and identifying ways to strengthen and expand the sector. This six year research initiative (2006-2012) was initiated by CCCR and is being funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). BALTA is the BC-Alberta node of a pan-Canadian research initiative, the Canadian Social Economy Research Partnerships (CSERP).

BALTA’s research program is organized into four broad areas/teams. These include three Social Economy Research Clusters (SERCs), each bringing together a mix of university and community based researchers and social economy practitioners. The three SERCs are focused on the following areas:

  • Social Enterprises in Human Services and Affordable Housing
  • The Social Economy in Rural Revitalization and Development
  • Analysis, Evaluation and Infrastructure Development

BALTA fourth team is working to “map” the range of social economy organizations in Alberta and BC.

BALTA’s research program has addressed a diverse range of subjects, including:

  • Sustainability, the social economy and community development
  • Green energy development
  • Local food systems, including farmers markets
  • Community economic development, including development systems and infrastructure, finance and markets
  • Public policy that supports the social economy, including the role of municipalities in support the social economy sector
  • Co-operatives
  • Social enterprise
  • Affordable housing
  • Land tenure and land trusts
  • Rural and regional development
  • The social and solidarity economies as a sector

BALTA is one example of a form of research collaboration known in Canada as CURAs – Community-University Research Alliances. BALTA has evolved a CURA model that balances the role of community based and academic organizations and individuals in shaping and implementing the research program. The intent is to produce research that draws on the research expertise of academics , but that meets needs of the social economy and CED sectors.

BALTA’s lead researcher is Mike Lewis, executive director of CCCR. BALTA’s coordinator is Stuart Wulff. For further information, contact Stuart.

Photo courtesy of Forma-Jeunes/Train-a-Youth Enterprises, Hearst, Ontario.