It is truly amazing, it really is

I was talking to someone yesterday about the closure of mills and attempts to replace these mills with tourism. He was citing several examples of rural NB mayors touting tourism projects. I have followed this trend but I have a hard time believing it. Who really thinks that you can replace $80,000/year pulp and paper jobs and the $50,000/year forestry jobs that are tied to them with $10/hour tourism jobs? How can that even be credible?

Exhibit A:

Weymouth’s economic strategy unveiled
The Nova Scotia Business Journal

After the closure of the J.D. Irving Sawmill in Weymouth, several local business and community leaders formed Team Weymouth to restore Weymouth’s economic fortunes and take control of its future. The group saw a need for a focused strategy to preserve a future for the village.

Rod LeFort, a local business owner and member of Team Weymouth, said the strategy focuses on development of the Weymouth waterfront and downtown for tourism and recreation. Team Weymouth believes it can work in partnership with the recently created Annapolis Digby Economic Development Agency to help achieve its goals.

“Weymouth was once a shipbuilding community.” Moorhead said. “We will be building on historic pilings to reclaim a bit of the past.” The Municipality of Digby plans to build a new library in the village and Team Weymouth is working to coordinate it into a unified plan for a revitalized downtown. “The library is an important part of this puzzle,” said Team Weymouth member Don Ruggles. “It will be a tremendous asset to the community, and a new building in the right place will serve as a year-round anchor for a vibrant downtown.”

This is amazing to me. A mill closes and the thoughts turn to waterfront development. Did anyone calculate the jobs lost/jobs gained from this effort? Did anyone calculate the wages lost/wages gained?

It is a knee jerk reaction. Oh, let’s use our beautiful coast line to stimulate economic development. Some would say it is because there are no other options. I say that is crazy. There is ‘waterfront’ development in every waterfront community around the globe. Just because you have water or a downtown or some inkling towards tourism doesn’t mean that should anchor your economic development strategy.