The Institute of Place Management (IPM) has been set up by the Association of Town Centre Management (ATCM) and the Manchester Metropolitan University Business School (MMUBS) to professionalise the role of people responsible for the planning, economic development, regeneration and day-to-day management of areas across the world.
IPM will launch in the UK first, allowing town centre managers to test it’s membership services at no cost. This is prior to the international launch in March 2008 which will see support extended across the world to all place managers, who are seen as anyone central to the development of any distinct area or destination, including neighbourhoods, villages, industrial estates, business parks, out-of-town retail & entertainment centres, leisure & tourism destinations, and parks & open spaces.
IPM (placemanagement.org) has been formed because of concern for the challenges faced by people in the industry. Fragmented support, disparate career paths and a lack of recognition for the importance of the role have all been cited as problems which hamper the efforts of place managers.
Simon Quin, the Director of IPM said: “Place managers have to draw from a variety of subject disciplines including social entrepreneurship, management, marketing, regeneration, economic development, planning & design and tourism & leisure. In addition, a place manager also needs an understanding of health, education, retailing, crime & security and even sociology.”
As place management is wide in terms of its inter-disciplinary nature, Mr Quin, who is also the Chief Executive Officer of the ATCM recognises that consequently many in the industry have a narrow understanding of their role because of unorthodox career paths and a lack of relevant qualifications.
“Many place managers may have related qualifications, such as retail, leisure or social sciences but none have qualifications specific to the broad and demanding industry that is place management simply because nothing appropriate has previously been available. Our research shows that almost two thirds of town centre managers alone desire a place management-specific qualification.”
The institute will respond to this by aiming to formalise an industry which has become an established concept in Europe over the last 20 years. This includes mapping out industry wide core skills common to all managerial job roles, creating and monitoring opportunities for personal and professional development, developing a membership base which recognises a place manager’s experience, qualifications and contribution to the industry and centralising international research allowing practitioners, policy makers and academics to access examples of best practice.
The Development Director, Professor Cathy Parker said: “For the Institute to fulfill its potential we have put the basic building blocks in place with the first ever place management specific qualifications, a strong membership structure and our own journal.”
It is not yet clear how successful the Institute will be however, it does aim to tackle problems which occur globally and has already attracted interest from Sweden, Spain, Belgium, Italy, Austria, Netherlands, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, Canada, US, Norway, Japan, Ireland, Israel, South Korea, Denmark, Germany, Poland and Brazil. It is believed that forming strong transnational partnerships will be a key to success for IPM according to Professor Parker.
“We welcome potential partners to get in touch to assist us in shaping, developing and operationalising the body further.”