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Creating conditions where business can prosper

Commentary with Geoff deGannes
Commentary with Geoff deGannes

The uniqueness of a joint presentation to the recent Amherst and Area Chamber of Commerce annual general meeting by Cumberland County Warden Allison Gillis and Amherst Mayor David Kogon seemed to be well received by the business community and others in attendance.  

It was a refreshingly different approach because it had both municipal leaders presenting what they see as a common vision for this part of Nova Scotia. After all, both the town and the county are participating now as partners on several projects and initiatives.
As Warden Gillis explained, there is a great deal of overlap in their development projects and plans, so, in order to avoid duplication, they decided to make the presentation jointly. The warden added they wanted to underscore the need to promote the strengths of the region as a whole, and recognize the importance of a collective vision for regional prosperity.
For his part, Mayor Kogon was certainly on the mark when he suggested “business does not seek out towns or cities to call home, rather they select thriving regions and to succeed with growth it is important to draw on the strengths and economy of the entire region rather than any one player.”
The economic sustainability of rural Nova Scotia is definitely at a critical juncture as was clearly illustrated in the Ivany Commission Report and the political tug-of war that has been in play between the town and the county in the recent past has been counterproductive to this region of the province. I noted both the mayor and the warden steered clear of any mention of amalgamation or a single regional government, choosing instead to accentuate the importance of “partnerships.” However, the warden did allude to the fact we have to maintain the critical mass of people necessary to make the provision of services financially sustainable. And we know that demographic changes, our aging and declining population, are a serious challenge in this area. Clearly both municipal leaders recognize the role they have to play in creating an environment for business investment and economic growth.
As the mayor told the chamber dinner, as government, they do not directly create jobs, and they do not start businesses. However, towns and counties do create the conditions in which business can prosper in the community.
On the surface, both the mayor and the warden are presenting a picture of a renewed synergy and spirit of cooperation between the two municipal governments that we haven’t seen in a while and that is promising. We would hope that will be played out within their respective councils and among the management teams of the two municipal councils. That is a process that has proven to be far more difficult in the past.
In theory, the joint strategy for economic readiness looks good on paper, but just how it will be practically applied is yet to be determined.

Geoff deGannes is the past chairman of the Tantramar Radio Society. His daily commentaries can be heard on 107.9 CFTA.



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