There are a number of ways to build the economic base of a city or town. One is to try and attract a few big employers that will provide jobs that pay well. Commonly called “smokestack chasing,” this method works if you have such things as a resource that can be developed or goods that can be manufactured, a transportation system to send the resulting goods to market and a workforce to fill the jobs created.
Here in Barriere we have, and have had for a number of years, an enterprise that has done well despite changing times. Good management and planning seem to be the key to its survival despite challenging times. They have slowly expanded and changed business focus to fit the best market needs. As a result they have been successful and have provided employment for a good number of our residents over the years. Being a resource based industry they rely on a steady supply of the materials they require. To continue to survive and prosper they must strive to retain and expand that supply.
There remains the question though of how much pressure can our forest resources take? Is it wise to develop more industry that will compete for virtually the same pool of resources? Will this cause the industries already in business to fail or at least become stagnant? Given the number of government studies and committees that are happening around this issue it seems that there may be a problem. Maybe a diversified approach to local economic growth is in order.
Another economic development growth strategy is to attract smart, entrepreneurial people. In this case it is quality of life policies that form the economic development strategy. The infrastructure that supports attracting these creative and risk taking people is relatively inexpensive and quite achievable here in Barriere.
Moderately priced housing in a safe and environmentally pleasing location are major attractions to prospective entrepreneurs. Easy access to a larger centre, high speed Internet and a progressive forward thinking local government that allows for proper growth all contribute to the success of this strategy.
There is a need to explore expanding local education opportunities to include mentorship programs and entrepreneurship classes in our public schools. People learn from each other on a peer to peer basis much more effectively than by being lectured to. We need to develop programs that would allow students of all ages to interact with the entrepreneurs in our area. Programs offering everything from the skills required to manufacture wood products, the science of treating wastewater and all the way to the art of creating music should be available. Hidden talents will blossom given the right circumstance and environment.
What comes of this is a local culture of business that is based on a large number of enterprises that are interrelated but not reliant on each other for prosperity and survival. In other words it is foolish to put all your eggs in one basket.
To this end the District will be exploring a different approach to economic development in our area. Rather than spending time and money trying to attract investors for undefined projects, we will be gathering the commercial and investment opportunities actually available here in our area. Once this data is gathered it will be supplied to the appropriate well established groups of professionals for them to seek out those investors that will be a fit for what we have to offer. There are a number of such avenues, one of which is the program offered by the provincial government that works to seek out investors all across the globe. Why use our limited resources to duplicate a program that is already in place?
Speaking of learning and the future, the Provincial Winter Fair was in Barriere this past weekend. The young people that form the heart of this event are the epitome of what hard work and organization can do. Barriere appreciates the Fair being held here. Please take the time to send that message to the Provincial Winter Fair board of directors. To move the Fair back to Kamloops makes no sense and will not serve the needs of the young people participating.