"Local Champion" wanted
The "Local Champion" is an important concept within LEADER. The initiative for creating an LAG partnership must come from a person who has authority, ability and wide public support on the local level. Chair persons of different associations (e.g. village development associations), businessmen and farmers are typical examples of private sector initiators. Mayors, municipal officials, local politicians and school rectors have been launching many LAGs on the public side. The process always requires one committed and enthusiastic person at the beginning who is then able to motivate and mobilize the others. Typically, he/she also becomes the first Chair person of the LAG.
Legal form and the registration
To reach wide public acceptance it is important to involve all possible interest groups right from the start. The legal registration process of a LAG is the first formality where one has to follow the national legislation. A n on-profit association is a typical legal form for a LAG, which also enables free membership for anyone living in the territory. The statutes should define, for example, the size and composition of the Board of Directors as well as the General Assembly procedures.
From top-down to bottom-up
It is worth noting that the very first idea for the LAG creation is oftentop-down. It may reach the territory as a Call of Proposals from the Ministry of Agriculture or a Capacity Building Project lead by national / foreign experts. However it is crucially important that the local level actors then catch the ball and show their broad commitment. One of the most common reasons for the a LAG's failure is too small, often consultant-driven circles.
The design process for the local development strategy normally starts immediately after the partnership is established (the LAG formal legal structure can be established later). This gives an opportunity for the partnership stakeholders to better learn to know each other and work together for a common goal. Building trust among the partnership is one of the main cornerstones of the LEADER spirit. The results start showing during the following years.