The TJ has a story today about potential new funds to help Dalhousie transition from the latest mill closure. It’s federal money with this description:
The fund is available to companies that create jobs, to entrepreneurs looking to start businesses, to help market products, support a revitalization committee and pay consultants who study if and how the mill could be converted to other uses.
Think this through for a minute. There are already programs to ‘help companies that create jobs’ and for ‘entrepreneurs looking to start businesses’ and for companies to ‘market products’. Existing programs. So, when they add new money what does that mean? I certainly hope it doesn’t mean that even more speculative projects get funding – just to show they (the government) are interested.
I think they should use any new money to think through what Dalhousie 2.0 might look like. I think this old school approach of throwing in a cash injection after a mill closure, hasn’t worked in the past and is unlikely to work in the future.
What is Dalhousie’s economic foundation for the 21st century? It’s that simple. What types of jobs would keep young people in the region (here’s a hint, ask them)? Can we transition existing mill workers or do we need a 10 year stopgap solution while we work on a permanent transition to a dynamic 21st century economy? Or should we continue the de facto policy of hollowing out the North?