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Business innovation centre key to economic growth


Since Amherst town council made the decision several years ago to vacate the Confederation Memorial Building on Ratchford Street for the Dominion Public Building more than a few people have been wondering what the town’s plans are for the former town hall building.

At first, the town suggested the building could be the new home for the Amherst Police Department, then there were suggestions it could be a theatre/arts centre, or even a library, should the town opt to expand the police presence in the existing library building.

As much as the suggested uses had pros and cons, this one seems to make the most economic sense.

If all goes according to plan, the former town hall building could become a hub for development initiatives for existing business, support community partners in the hosting of activities and events for new businesses and a venue for local businesses to conduct skill development activities for employees. It could also become a location for various community groups in need of space to host events.

Having a one-stop shopping location for existing business and potential employers in the downtown is something that could help Amherst attract new jobs while providing companies that are already here more opportunities to not only retrain and retain the workers they have, but possibly expand - creating new jobs.

One of the biggest criticism of Amherst’s administration in recent years is its inability to effectively recruit new jobs to the town. While it’s easy to question why no new industries have come to Amherst, the fact is small and medium-size business is the future of our economy.

The One Nova Scotia report suggested a year ago that municipalities and businesses need to think outside the box to stop this province’s economic woes. Instead of looking to government to fix whatever is wrong, it said Nova Scotians themselves must take the lead. By providing a facility to help foster a climate of economic development the town could be taking a bold step toward making that happen. It’s something that hopefully will push the economy of Amherst, and Cumberland County, forward.

We also can’t lose sight of the fact that finding a new use for the building will prevent it from becoming another BMO building – left to the elements to crumble and become an eyesore that has to be demolished.

At first, the town suggested the building could be the new home for the Amherst Police Department, then there were suggestions it could be a theatre/arts centre, or even a library, should the town opt to expand the police presence in the existing library building.

As much as the suggested uses had pros and cons, this one seems to make the most economic sense.

If all goes according to plan, the former town hall building could become a hub for development initiatives for existing business, support community partners in the hosting of activities and events for new businesses and a venue for local businesses to conduct skill development activities for employees. It could also become a location for various community groups in need of space to host events.

Having a one-stop shopping location for existing business and potential employers in the downtown is something that could help Amherst attract new jobs while providing companies that are already here more opportunities to not only retrain and retain the workers they have, but possibly expand - creating new jobs.

One of the biggest criticism of Amherst’s administration in recent years is its inability to effectively recruit new jobs to the town. While it’s easy to question why no new industries have come to Amherst, the fact is small and medium-size business is the future of our economy.

The One Nova Scotia report suggested a year ago that municipalities and businesses need to think outside the box to stop this province’s economic woes. Instead of looking to government to fix whatever is wrong, it said Nova Scotians themselves must take the lead. By providing a facility to help foster a climate of economic development the town could be taking a bold step toward making that happen. It’s something that hopefully will push the economy of Amherst, and Cumberland County, forward.

We also can’t lose sight of the fact that finding a new use for the building will prevent it from becoming another BMO building – left to the elements to crumble and become an eyesore that has to be demolished.

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