Economic development efforts seem to move at a glacial pace.
Impatient observers, including newspaper editors, perhaps need to look at the bigger picture with a less cynical, what-have-you-done-for-me-lately attitude.
Parksville and District Chamber of Commerce executive director Kim Burden appeared at city council on Monday night. A glance at the agenda before he spoke gave hope for some possible meaty stuff. The agenda suggested Burden was going to provide an “update on economic development projects.”
Cool, we surmised. Some industry or business on the way to create real jobs, perhaps?
Not so fast, Mr. and Mrs. Impatient.
Burden’s report was an update on the projects being undertaken by the chamber, various municipal staff and the Parksville Qualicum Beach Tourism Association — along with consultants they hire — that will supposedly or eventually lead to actual jobs and economic development.
These ‘projects’ are supposed to lay the groundwork for presenting the area as an attractive place to live and work and, presumably set up a business.
From the outside looking in, this resembles a study group, followed by a marketing strategy, followed by implementation of said strategy. Well, that’s exactly what it is. The cynic could easily view it as a make-work project for municipal staff and those who are employed by associations.
And that’s usually our default position. But, today at least, we’re willing to buy into the strategy and on Monday, Burden did an excellent job explaining how difficult, time consuming and expensive it can be to attract business to any region. It’s being made even more difficult by a backlog in a provincial government department that deals with applications for immigrants who want to set up businesses here, but that’s a different story for a different time.
What people like Burden are doing, with a small amount of taxpayer funds, is setting us up for victory, if you will, creating a foundation and doing the groundwork so the message being sent to those in the world who may consider this area is clear and attractive.
Still, we wouldn’t mind a good news story once in a while related to this Oceanside Initiatives effort about a firm moving here with 20 or more good-paying jobs to fill.
— Editorial by John Harding