Can a warden – or MRC – create jobs? Really?

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Dispatches from the 148 by Fred Ryan

The MRC is not hiring many folks and not itself starting many businesses – so how can politicians “create jobs”?  How do we separate these ghost promises into the real and the unreal?

Dispatches from the 148 by Fred Ryan

The MRC is not hiring many folks and not itself starting many businesses – so how can politicians “create jobs”?  How do we separate these ghost promises into the real and the unreal?
First, much of the MRC’s energies – in economic development – do focus on searching out and applying for/promoting subsidies and grants. Many a farm, business and service has been helped by improvement grants.  However, many “grants” are in effect the annual operating costs for public services, delivered by government. Those are bills to pay, not grants.
Grants clearly merit our MRC’s  attention – but only proportionate to their historical long-run results.
Two: Pontiac’s economy may be private enterprise-driven, but we depend
principally on institutional players – health system, government offices, schools – plus many large retailers, also run from outside (taking their profits outside) – all
creating jobs and injecting salaries into our local economy.
Our base, so our myth goes, is small business. While this might be true in areas of heavy consumer concentration, where most businesses can attract a market, here, it’s hard to concentrate an audience for anything.
Ask candidates promising jobs to give us numbers: local spending inside and out; local income sources, inside and out of the MRC?      
Three: sources of financing for small business are crucial. The old SOLIDE
was bankrolled by unions, of all people. Unions across Quebec loaned money to local businesses to expand, as long as they created jobs. What a concept! Unions want to soak up what’s extra in the labour market, to tighten the market, and we all benefit. There are other such organizations.  Ask the candidates what they know of these non-conventional sources of finance and how they plan to attract them (without setting up another office in the MRC!)
We do have a successful co-op in the Pontiac (it’s province-wide), and this
co-op is finance – best news!  The Caisse Pop, not convenient to everyone, is community managed; its profits are distributed locally. No other bank does this.
Agencies like the SADC are remarkably helpful. We have an Economic Swat Team, no less, at the MRC, thanks to our deputies, working together, as they must.
Asking a leader to shoulder this complex economy, and then expecting some stimulus from that, misses the point that it’s difficult to even figure what’s really going on in most economies, with so many complex and dynamic loops in operation simultaneously, with so many businesses competing for the same space and resources.
Such broad-based but focused questions will tell us which candidates are for
real. We can’t cash in promises; we have to know how well prepared these
candidates are for the tough job, in real-time Pontiac. 
Then, there are very specific issues, some big, some local. (More to come in the next edition . . .) Here we usually get non-answers, not promises.
We can’t afford non-answers on issues that will determine or even degrade our future for generations. There are many: the thousand-year Chalk River radioactive dump, roads in the TNO, changing the Cyclo-park trail’s usage, donating the Portage stone school to the Artists Association, internet services, keeping timber inside the Pontiac, and how about adding our municipal voice to protect supply-
management in the NAFTA re-negotiation? Political-party hotshots will tell us
we small-timers can’t get involved in such big issues (Chalk River, timber, NAFTA), but this is our livelihood, and we have no team of deputies pulling for us.
Each of us needs our own list of issues, to use face-to-face and to keep score.