South Africa’s cities, metros and surrounding regions face the challenges of low economic growth, poorly functioning spatial economies, persistent socio-economic divides and unemployment, compounded by imbalances in investment potential and opportunity. Racial divisions and underdevelopment in rural areas and small towns with limited economic potential (and often linked to mineral resources), still persist today. In our current fiscally constrained environment, how do we lay the foundations and build the systems that will provide meaningful developmental and employment creation strategies? Fiscally, the option of increasing direct public sector employment has reached its limit. There is a recognition that attention needs to be shifted towards stimulating private sector employment. At the same time as there is an opportunity to realise the benefits of South Africa’s demographic dividend to stimulate economic growth, unemployment levels are high and achieving the right skills mix is a challenge. Within this context, what levers do regions have available to stimulate employment?