On 14 and 15 November 2016 we partnered with GTAC and TIPS in co-hosting the Annual Conference of the Economies of Regions Learning Network (ERLN), on the theme ‘Economic Development for Employment: Sub-national Strategies’. The conference, held in Pretoria, hosted over 150 participants, from academic institutions, policy-making groups, research centres and non-governmental organisations. Gathering such a variety of different actors, the event offered a space for fruitful debates and professional networking. Following a keynote address from Dr Milford Bateman (Juraj Dobrila University, Pula, Croatia and St Mary’s University, Halifax, Canada) on the crucial role played by ‘local developmental states’ (LDS) in creating decent jobs, the plenary and parallel sessions tackled both methodological and policy issues related to South Africa’s urgent need to generate quality employment. Issues of data availability at firm and sector level, urban planning, regional innovation and the informal economy were amongst the key discussions developed as part of the programme. After the Conference, the ERLN network will keep working through its partnering institutions and working groups.