Recently, a provincial media outlet suggested a call to action in Nova Scotia.
It suggested that we know the problems and we understand the challenges, but we do not seem to be able to translate what we know into action that makes a difference.
The editorial suggested 10 bold ideas for change, most of which are challenges to government and require political will, but ideas need champions; individuals and organizations committed to making them a reality.
So let’s build on this platform and each of us create a list of positive, common sense action items. And more important, let’s think through how we can actually make them happen.
Here is my list, all of which we are working on at the Pictou County Chamber of Commerce:
- We should embrace the movement toward a more energy efficient province. In fact we should commit to being Canada’s most energy efficient province, following the lead of Efficiency Nova Scotia which is already recognized internationally for its innovative approach. The cheapest power available is power you do not use. This can be a significant economic driver. There is nothing stopping each of us from contributing to this. Just call Efficiency Nova Scotia to see how you can get involved.
- The availability of power at a reasonable cost is critical to our future, at home and in business. But energy issues are complex and the energy generation mix of the future is changing rapidly. We all need to become more energy literate. A good start would be to be aware of Nova Scotia Power’s Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) which is being developed now and will predict our energy needs and sources over the next 10 -25 years. Log on to TomorrowsPower.ca, learn and speak up.
- The YMCA has a successful newcomer/immigrant assistance program that has gone under the radar for a number of years. The Regional Development Agencies supplemented this with some innovative and effective newcomer navigator programs which no longer exist. These programs make a difference to newcomers in our communities. The “Y” programs, managed by experienced people, should be beefed up and expanded now. The business community and all levels of government should partner on this initiative.
- We need to reach out to our First Nations communities, not just here in the province, but across Canada. Let’s understand what they need and encourage our businesses to be their primary suppliers. Let’s use our innovative manufacturers, IT sector experts and science based researchers to supply goods and services and to help improve lives with innovative, sustainable solutions. Start by calling the First Nations Community in your area to begin the conversation.
- We have an impressive applied research resource at the Nova Scotia Community College. Their goal is to partner with the business community and entrepreneurs to bring ideas to market. They use leading edge technology. They want to help and we need only ask.
- Chambers of Commerce are well established, understand the needs of business and can make things happen to help local businesses grow. Get involved with your local Chamber and help them find the money to add staff and resources to move to the next level. Chambers do not have to re-invent the wheel.
- Find out what resources are available to help your business or community. As much as those of us in “rural” Nova Scotia may feel separate from the big city, the resources there are varied and ready to help all of us. The Halifax Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Halifax Partnership, the Entrepreneurs Forum and other organizations will provide advice and more. The help network exists, we just have to make the effort to uncover it.
- There needs to be a strong voice of business within government to provide the non-political, fact based input to government decision making. John Bragg, a member of the Nova Scotia Commission on Building Our New Economy has suggested we establish a Ministry of Business. We should be calling our elected officials to encourage this to happen. Another civic holiday is nice to have. But, the impact on business costs are negative and do nothing to improve our economy. Some politicians would be surprised to learn this. They would benefit from listening to the voice of business, before the fact.
- Business leaders and municipal leaders must find ways to listen to one another and begin a dialogue based on factual information. The Pictou County Chamber is now working with our municipalities based on this model in an effort to move our local economy forward. Our common approach is based on the principles of “Economic Gardening”, helping our businesses find ways to grow. It is also based on the concept of “others interest”, not self-interest. It may only take a phone call to start the process.
- Let’s commit to being positive and celebrating our successes. It is about attitude change. Start by creating your own action list to make positive change. Then find a way to make things happen, one step at a time.
- Submitted by Jack Kyte, executive director of the Pictou County Chamber of Commerce.