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Except for the boom era of roughly 2000 to 2008, there were never very many “jobs” here on Cortes.
Now the beach leases are no longer profitable, clams and fishing gone, coastal logging almost non-existent (thankfully) compared to previous times. Oysters are processed off-island. We no longer have a doctor, bank, year-round restaurant, RMT, three grocery stores and one petrol station no longer exist. High-profit “Mom and Pop” grow-ops are gone, along with their huge contribution to the local economy. The real estate buying/building frenzy has abated.
Other factors affect our economic well being: high cost of transportation. Ferry travel, an obvious one, has had very large cost increases over the years. This cuts down on tourism and the discretionary spending powers of tourists should they actually choose to come here. Another factor is the cost of shipping: getting raw materials here or sending finished good out has gotten very expensive due to much increased postal rates and regulations. We have experienced this as a direct detriment to our own earning abilities.
The current difficult economic conditions do not obtain on Cortes only, there is world-wide financial distress which has affected us here as well. To imagine we can remedy the economic situation here without an economic upturn in the outer world is like expecting to have a measurable impact on climate change by riding one's bicycle while China burns ever increasing amounts of coal to promote their own economic interests.
Economic downturns are nothing new here on the coast. Witness the town at Evans Bay on Read Island, no longer exists. Same with other settlements on these islands, Cortes included. Many outports in Newfoundland have quietly close up, their population moved away. Things change.I am all for ideas to increase earning opportunities here. Ideas need to be carefully and thoroughly explored to give the best chance of success. We have witnessed many attempts at business ideas that were not really thought through, and so failed. People move to greener pastures.
We have seen that the most effective way to provide incomes on Cortes is to bring money in from off-island. This has been most successful where individual initiative and ideas are encouraged. Local “jobs” have never been an economic mainstay. Grants are not sustainable, throwing public money at the problem is not the answer. In fact, there will be less public money available as tax revenues decline due to decreasing property value assessments and fewer opportunities to make a living.
In this time of world-wide economic contraction, even heretofore good ideas may not work. The money is just not out there as it once was. To flourish, find something that works for you, and re-invent yourself as necessary.
Big wheel keeps on turning Regards,Jack
Jack, this discussion isn't about me, but as an aside, I have gone through the process of business formation including raising money, and my experience was nothing as straightforward or as easy as you describe. Your research on per sf costs for shop space shows when I used $1/sf/month for shop space, I was too conservative. Using your number of $1.50/sf, then rental for a small, 1000sf shop would be $1500/month.I think that we all agree that we need to bring money from the outside to the island, and not count on trade between ourselves. Would you agree that the Cortes Island economy is shrinking, and the population mix is increasingly skewed towards Seniors? What does the economy of Cortes Island look like in twenty years if this trend continues? What percentage of the total cash flow to the island comes from government sources, including pensions, EI, aid to single parents, disability allowances etc'? More accurately, what is the ration of earned to unearned income? This is an important measure of the health and sustainability of the local economy.Communities are given substantial powers over development in the Local Government Act and the Community Charter Act, and the responsibility to promote economic development. We can do things to grow the Cortes Island economy, and this doesn't necessarily require government funding. The various levels of government do have a variety of aid programs, sometimes with cash, but commonly more about organizational aid, and access to private funding sources with the lowest possible costs. I see no reason to reject whatever help is available, other than personal political philosophy.You seem to have doubts that Cortes Island could be transformed into a desired location for certain kinds of business start ups, and if we only look to the past for examples, it doesn't make sense. But the world economic order has changed, and is changing at an increasingly rapid rate. The old models are being supplanted by new kinds of relationships, taking advantage of the interconnections of the digital age. Great new products and companies are often started by outliers, with little financial or emotional support. Our economic system is very resistant to truly new ideas, because truly new ideas are disruptive to the existing order. How many great ideas and great minds are lost because of lack of support? I've used "maker" to describe what I think should be promoted. Many different activities can be described as something a "maker" does, but for me, the most important characteristic of a 'maker' is that their activity is unalienated labour. In the process of 'making' the worker and the work become one, ungoverned and apart from the structure of the employer/employee relationship and the alienated labour that results. 'Makers' are the creatives among us, and creatives have different requirements from, say, money-changers. The talents and skills of creatives often don't include those needed to to navigate the moneychanger's networks, and as a result, their contribution is lost.Consider 'maker' as a class, as opposed to 'merchant' and 'moneychanger'. The maker class has been on the bottom of the economic order for a long time, although the whole structure is built on shoulders of the makers. Ultimately, the core contradiction of capitalism is that it needs the makers for growth, but the requirements of the makers conflict with the structure of capitalism. The general proposal is to be to provide help and assistance to makers so that they too may experience economic success. What the maker does with success is different that the moneychangers. Take the example of Elon Musk, who invested most of his profits from Paypay and put it into electric cars and spacecraft, neither of which would find much luck with venture capitalists without Musk's billions. Take the example of Apple and Microsoft. I was involved with personal computers from the beginning, and the people around me thought I was a bit touched. Apple was started by geek outliers. Bill Gates trolled the outlier geek community looking for ideas and personnel, and built his company using them. My point about the cost of a buy-in on Cortes Island it's it likely out of reach for the very people we need. I've been involved with land share agreements in the past. When problems arise within the owner group, it's very difficult if not impossible to get out without loosing a lot of your investment. Land share agreements exist as a way of circumventing the regulated subdivision process. A bare land strata subdivision is a far superior structure, and it's not that difficult- I've done it. Micheal Kluchkowski
I think there’s an important common interest between people who work in the physical realm and those who work with information. As a maker, I’ve made the transition to the digital world. The product is first created as a digital object; defined, examined and refined in a 3D space with a freedom from constraint and degree of resolution that can’t be achieved any other way. The method of production is worked out in the digital space, so by the time the project gets to the machine, a lot of work that was traditionally done by the craftsman has already been done. The time used in production, and therefore the cost, of the physical part goes down, making the end product more completive.
What I find is that my time is primarily used in the conception, design, organization, sale and customer fulfillment of the project, some of which I like, and some not.
I realize that there is a varied collection of sophisticated talent on Cortes, and some of that skill and talent could be engaged in instigating and managing a project. If a person is reasonably computer literate they can learn how to use 3D design software. A variety of people with specific talents can be included. We need to compete globally, and that means we can’t compete on the low end. We need to make things that are distinctive and fresh, and that takes a lot of time.
How revenues would be appropriately divided is an open question, with many different options.
On another note, the boat traffic in the summer is low hanging fruit in terms of marketing to an upscale audience, not only for the items they might be inclined to purchase on the spot, but because of their networks when they return to their other lives. But they need to have somewhere to go and something to do when they come ashore, a brand they can talk about, and an online store. At the forum meeting it was suggested that the Cortes brand should revolve around the notion of Cortes as a centre for alternative thinking and practices, and this makes sense to me, with the history of Cold Mountain and Hollyhock. I've lived in a variety of destinations that, whether organized or not, offer their visiters intellectual, emotional, and spiritual alternatives, a respite from the ridgid norm. Wealth doesn't exclude people from this need. Relief is found in many forms, and hopefully inspiration is the result.
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