When I started a small company in the Netherlands 15 years ago, we paid six per cent tax for the first three years of business. It was a massive leg up for a young business getting going. The support for entrepreneurship has to be more than encouraging rhetoric it must be reflected in furthering our facilities and infrastructure.
I believe it is no longer about making businesses that get bigger and bigger and employ more people (the classic and pervasive entrepreneurship model). It is about small businesses getting more connected to each other so that they can tackle opportunities at scale. The HUB South Shore does this and the launch of CO3 in Bridgewater is also an encouraging sign. However, these are small local actions not supported through any regional planning process.
I don't think this is just about entrepreneurship, though. I was at the school review session last week. It blew me away to realize that the education system is making a whole series of decisions seemingly without connection to the other major players that influence our region. If we are on a trajectory in our county and province of attracting people to move here to be able to sustain our economy, then we cannot cut the very facilities that draw people.
At the Now Lunenburg County meeting on February 4, it was shocking to hear of retirees explaining how they cannot find people to do work for them - there are just not enough people to serve their needs. Yet we do not have a coherent overarching strategy that unites our service providers, municipal units, and community organizations to work together for the common good.
The currently established infrastructure supports the established ways of doing things. It sustains the status quo. In Lunenburg County and across Nova Scotia, the status quo is no longer an option. It is heading us into accelerated population decline, economic depression, and the loss of core facilities in our communities.
I believe there is a pervasive need for support that encourages and rewards risk-taking, that values learning as an outcome and distributes that learning to equip others who step up to lead change. The very nature of doing something new is that you don't know what you are doing! Which means that if we want to see change we are going to have to get comfortable with uncertainty and figuring it out as we move along. We cannot plan our way into the future, we are going to have to build the path as we walk it.
Localized action without regional strategy is headed for failure. A regional strategy requires collaboration among the decisions-making bodies. Those with power and influence need to get over their turf wars and fiefdom protection to create strategies that increase the chances of success for those of us leading on the ground.