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Rural and Urban Leading Economic Change                                                                                   ...
How Can Community EconomicDevelopers Respond?Unfortunately, there is often confrontation between               polarized i...
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Rural and Urban - Leading Economic Change


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Rural and Urban - Leading Economic Change

  1. 1. Rural and Urban Leading Economic Change Number 5, July 2012Why are rural areas struggling?We’re still months away from the October municipal is dotted with micro-urban-centres: small townselections, but a key issue has already emerged: ensuring and villages providing services to their surroundingthe long-term viability of small rural municipalities. rural regions. Many are struggling. Their traditional economic bases have been slowly eroding. TheIn May, the rural-urban debate was fueled by Richard most acute case so far has been the Town of Canso,Florida’s keynote address at Greater Halifax which officially dissolved on July 1.Partnership’s State of the Economy Conference. Heshared the prediction that 70% of the world will be Last year, in the shadow of Canso’s pendingliving in urban and suburban centres in the next 30 dissolution (and Bridgetown’s financial crisis), theyears: “cities are the place where creative people Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities struck a Townsmeet.” This echoed concerns he raised a decade ago in Task Force. One of this group’s topThe Rise of the Creative Class: recommendations is for tax incentive tools (similar to those available in Halifax) to help develop rural I fear we may well be splitting into two distinct societies downtowns. with different institutions, different economies, different incomes, ethnic and racial makeups, social organizations, But this is not their report’s only focus. Their religious orientations and politics. One is creative and fundamental argument is for greater cooperation diverse – a cosmopolitan admixture of high tech people, among municipalities, rather than conflict: bohemians, scientists and engineers, the media and the professions. The other is a more close-knit, church-based, The economies of Nova Scotia communities are older civic society of working people and rural dwellers interrelated and there are opportunities for (2002, p. 281). municipalities to work together to create growth… (2012, p. 26).There is no doubt that Nova Scotia has been urbanizing:the population of Halifax has grown 9% since 2001, They are calling on all Nova Scotians to recognizewhile the remainder of the province has declined by the mutual dependence of our urban, micro-urbanover 3%. Outside of Halifax and Sydney, our province and rural communities. NSARDA is the link between the Nova Scotia RDAs, providing support and collective strength. Since 1999, the Association has helped the Nova Scotia RDAs in improving the economy of communities across Nova Scotia. For more information about NSARDA and the Nova Scotia RDAs please visit Leading Economic Change: A Discussion Paper Series from NSARDA
  2. 2. How Can Community EconomicDevelopers Respond?Unfortunately, there is often confrontation between polarized in favour of a dominant region. But he alsorural and urban areas. Whenever we create political coined the term trickling down to talk about the positiveboundaries around a region, we also tend to create impact a growth pole can have on its surrounding area.mental ones: an us-versus-them fight for development. So then, the more optimistic metaphor is a bright starThe fight is focused on the seemingly irresistible pull of supporting a vibrant solar system. And researchsuccessful urban regions. As cities accumulate people suggests this is the most appropriate way to think aboutand investment, their mass increases, resulting in a the rural-urban dynamic in Nova Scotia. The Conferencegreater gravitational pull on additional people and Board of Canada recently found that Halifax actuallyinvestment. A pessimistic metaphor is the black hole: helps its surrounding region grow faster than the citythe opinion that cities suck the life from their itself! And Halifax has the strongest hub-and-spokesurrounding regions. Economist John Friedman called effect of any city in Canada.this the centre versus the periphery. Hub-and-spoke relationships exist in every city, townEconomic developers around the world have tried to and rural community. Not every location can be a hub,take advantage of economic gravity by setting up but the spokes also reap the rewards of their economicregional industry clusters. Cluster development is relationships to other locales. To do so, everyloosely based on the work of economist François community must first become aware of its ownPerroux. He introduced the idea of growth poles in strengths. Secondly, communities must seek out1949, never intending that they would be used in opportunities for regional cooperation.regional development (they were to exist only inabstract economic space). But this simple idea has come Community Economic Developers have always beento dominate regional science. And thankfully, it takes a leaders in regional cooperation. Now, more than ever,much less negative view of what we now call growth we must be successful at forging alliances acrosscentres, clusters, or hubs. administrative boundaries to create shared prosperity.Albert Hirschman was an influential writer on growth Ryan MacNeil, MAES, EcD, is Principal of Ryan MacNeil & Co., apoles. He understood that development can become company that helps development leaders & organizations become focused and effective. Reach him at Who is working on it? Fostering regional cooperation is part of the mandate for Nova Scotia’s Regional Development Authorities (RDAs). In one of many examples, the Lunenburg-Queens RDA has pioneered a “networked economic development model”. LQRDA sees its role as catalyst to leverage the wide variety of municipal, provincial, federal, and not-for- profit organizations that impact economic development in the Lunenburg Queens region. This past February, they held Partnering for Regional Prosperity, an event designed to identify areas for closer collaboration, establish new partnerships, and reveal gaps. The Government of Nova Scotia has signaled its support for regional cooperation across a wide range of areas (such as energy and waste management) and has encouraged shared-service models between municipalities, schools boards, universities, and district health authorities. Over the past decade, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency has supported extensive policy research on the rural-urban dynamic in Atlantic Canada (see examples at Leading Economic Change: A Discussion Paper Series from NSARDA