Sometimes I get a headache in this business. Someone sent me the results of a resident survey in a community in the Maritime Provinces that recently lost a major employer (forest products). The Council sent out a survey to ask what types of industry should they work to try and attract.
They want more retail, recreation, some health care services, etc. I think only one or two of the respondents actually said the community should actually go out and try and replace the major employer to attract new non-local service industries.
Of course, the council could/should have asked the questions differently or maybe provided a better sense of context for residents that aren’t that familiar with economic development.
But if there was no market for a [fill in the blank] local service in the community before the loss of a few hundred jobs (this was a relatively small community), what will the market be now that potentially millions in disposable income has left (or is about to leave) the community?
I don’t really have a problem with a community trying to attract retail or other local services. In fact, in many contexts, there are gaps and a capturable local market. In those cases, it makes reasonable sense.
But I must be clear on this point. The mayor and council would have a better chance playing pickup sticks with their butt cheeks (to quote John Candy) that attracting retail and services into community that just lost 30% of its non-local services employment base.
We have got to do a better job of explaining economic development.