Want to know what rural business leaders want? Ask them.

Rural business leaders want outside investment

Some politicians and others have suggested that supporting local business is the best path to successful rural development. They drone on and on about small business financing, stimulating research among small businesses, supporting trade development, yadda, yadda, yadda.

Have they actually asked rural business leaders about this?

In a recent study done by the Blandin Foundation in rural Minnesota, 1,700 rural business leaders were asked what the most critical rural community issues were.

52 percent of respondents said “attracting businesses to my region” is most important; 26
percent said “retaining existing businesses” is most important and 11 percent said
“supporting local entrepreneurs.”

Funny, eh?

I wonder if we conducted a survey of 1,700 rural business leaders in New Brunswick if they would have the hutzpa to say that attracting business to their region was the most critical rural community issue.

I doubt it. We are so conditioned to believe otherwise, I suspect that 99% would say ‘support small business’.

But I could be wrong about this. These small business leaders in rural communities may actually realize that attracting industry and growing the local economy is the best path to supporting SMEs.

Maybe we should take a cue from Minnesota.

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0 Responses to Want to know what rural business leaders want? Ask them.

  1. Anonymous says:

    Those are curious numbers, from the looks of it they were asked to ‘rank’ them. However, I find it curious that ‘business leaders’ support bringing in potential competitors over protecting their own interests. That’s VERY unusual.

    No doubt many simply accept that it won’t be competitors moving in, but some other business who may actually become a customer, but of course there’s no guarantee of that, and in some cases a large customer can simply take over your business, as McCains has done to farmers in the northwest.

    There are other things to consider too, those numbers may be applicable to the states, but you have to remember that the USDA has VERY generous ‘social programs’ for rural areas, and combined with what has lately become a VERY effective rural lobby industry, this means that rural areas are in a completely different climate from Canada. In Canada there are virtually NO farm subsidies, and unless catastrophe strikes in a ‘vote rich’ area, it can be reasonably assumed that they WANT people out of rural areas.

    Just look quickly at the ‘mad cow’ scenario, where billions flooded to a market, which previously had prided itself and staunchly maintained it had no use of government regulations or incentives. Suddenly when the chips were down they were all screaming at Ottawa to do something. In PEI they couldn’t even get Ottawa to TALK to the americans when they just as flightily cut off potato imports. They ALWAYS claim that its because of ‘health’ or ‘safety’ reasons, but everybody knows its just because their government is so much smarter than ours (or more accountable to the people) and they know that that is the only way to ‘get around’ NAFTA provisions.

    In a rural area though it is even less essential that ‘business investment’ means some global giant moving in. In fact that wouldn’t even cross most of their minds since its so unlikely. Most press from rural areas are absolutely ecstatic when there is ANY government investment, because THAT is so rare nowadays.

    Yet this is of interest. First of all because we know it would be so easy to rectify with some political incentive at the PROVINCIAL level. I say provincial because it would not satisfy everyone here.

    Let’s say for example Molson, for a few million more, could have been brought to Bathurst or Miramichi, or even Boiestown (or insert any other northern community). This would go a LONG way to even out recent job losses and bring in some real benefits to very sore communities.

    However, it would mean that Moncton would go without, and we know how well such ideas go over. We can virtually guarantee that if rural leaders somehow ‘got a lead’ on a company, that representatives from Moncton, Saint John and Fredericton would be there pretty damn quick.

    So take any tact. Say the province at least made sure every school in rural areas had state of the art computer technology-animation, database administration, software applications, hardware development.

    Today, as most know, public education teaches all the subjects least likely to find you a job-political science, history, geography, etc. I’m not saying replace those, but certainly with two classes per day in, say, Flash MX, in one year you’d have a group of professionals.

    The good thing about animation and many technology based programs, is they can be done from anywhere. A grade nine class could, in one month, produce an animation pilot ready to be sold to the CBC, CTV, or even better (and in addition) an overseas market-since animations can easily be translated.

    That’s just one example from one industry, imagine the myriad other ones available once you actually empower kids imaginations. However, we KNOW that rural areas get the least provincial dollars, and as rural people have said for years, it is quite apparant that the government would LOVE to just get them the hell out of there so that they can get resource extractors in there (plus less competition for the urban centres).

    Relatively speaking the above idea is practically FREE. Software can be licensed, computers can be leased. For that class to produce the animation costs them nothing-it may actually go a long way towards keeping kids in school (yet another problem). So imagine if even a LITTLE bit of monetary investment was added what that would accomplish. But we KNOW from history and the present that that is simply irrelevant in this province (and most).

    Of course on the other side you can argue that you can use millions to bring in a company from outside-that’s far more expensive and we KNOW they won’t be setting up in rural areas, all New Brunswick is ‘rural’ compared to Quebec and Ontario. I’m not arguing against that idea, that would be fantastic, but again, it doesn’t help rural areas. As we see, the only hope for rural areas is in resource extraction, which is dying, or environmentally experimental (to be kind) industries such as Bennett in Belledune.