The Western REN is a partnership between the Province and the Municipalities and Towns of Yarmouth and Digby Counties, as well as the Municipality of Barrington. As a rural region with a small population, we must collaborate to achieve the goals of the region together. Each partner involved in the Western REN has its own perspectives and strengths when it comes to economic development, and we work together to affect change in the region. But, what type of change do we require as a region?
Municipal leaders at this week’s Association of Municipal Administrators – Nova Scotia (AMA-NS) Fall Conference are exploring topics of perception, change, disruption, and attracting and retaining talent; challenges that have a particular impact on Nova Scotia’s rural areas.
So, knowing that our municipal leadership is exploring these same questions, where do we start? The world economy has been disrupted by big changes in technology, which can create big opportunities, as well as big challenges. Rural areas based on traditional industries, like Western NS, often struggle with keeping up with the changes. Open the Uber app anywhere in Nova Scotia, and you’ll get the note: Unfortunately, Uber is currently unavailable in your area. How can our rural regions implement change to help us “catch up” – especially when staying stable is a challenge in itself? Western NS is seeking to overcome challenges of high infrastructure costs (high speed internet), out-migrating youth, and population decline.
What does it take to make change happen? How do we begin to shift our perceptions of change while continuing to respect and maintain our rural traditions?
The Western REN believes in people! Success requires partnerships and a positive, friendly, productive business environment. People are the heart and soul of the region. We must play to our own strengths, and people are Nova Scotia’s greatest strength.
By working together in partnerships, instead of in isolated silos, and by approaching old problems from new angles and sharing risks to implement new solutions, we can find innovative and exciting ways to not only catch up to the future, but be leaders in innovation ensuring a lasting impact for the Western REN’s business community.