Making the Pontiac work!

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Dispatches from the 148 by Fred Ryan


Dispatches from the 148 by Fred Ryan

Pontiac’s local businesspeople were up on stage last week – not behind the counter – and it was exhilarating. We hardly give these folks a thought, day by day, but September 20, the Pontiac Conference Centre rocked with applause as Pontiac’s “Readers’ Choice” awards were announced. If anyone in the Pontiac deserves our cheers, it is these people, our real public servants, our local business community.
With municipal elections ramping up, the candidates’ talk is about Pontiac’s future and what we can do to make it brighter. It’s fine to talk about new industry, but the fact is the wealthy corporate world left us a long time ago, and with them the unions, too. We’re left with our own boot-straps.
True, Pontiac is dependent upon a lot of (often ill-directed) government “help”, most of it defined elsewhere and accompanied by pages of conditions. Social assistance – from kids to the unemployed to seniors – is crucial, but it’s beyond any local control, like the weather.
Local control of our development is essential if we want Pontiac to do more than just survive. And all of us do have control over local businesses. We create them, they come from our neighbours, and we make or break them by our support, our
purchases. We help ourselves by shopping locally – for everything, from groceries to electrical work, legal advice to a good meal.
This newspaper, the Journal, is a prime example of this dynamic. The Journal employs Pontiac citizens from Chapeau/Chichester, Fort Coulonge, Mansfield, Vinton, Campbell’s Bay, Portage-du-Fort, Otter Lake, Quyon, plus multiple
residents of Shawville. There’s a local office where everything’s put together and managed, from digital layout to accounting. If the Journal wasn’t here, we’d likely have a corporate newspaper filling that gap. Called “Pontiac Something-or-other”, it’d be published and essentially managed from Toronto. Advertising revenues would go to Toronto, maybe Montréal. Public events (like the Pontiac artists’ dramatic volunteer recognition gala last Saturday) would go unsupported, or only modestly so. Check out those areas (like Renfrew) which have lost their once-local media.
The Journal works here, keeps jobs here, keeps profits here. In turn, the Journal relies on all the small business of the Pontiac – not Ford or Toyota full page ads, but Shawville Ford’s offerings (for example) and other local businesses, community organizations and agencies which create the employment our local economy depends upon. With their ads, these enterprises are asking for your support, and, in turn, you, dear reader, get all the local news, photos, announcements, and analysis the Journal can muster – cost free.
That’s the dynamic. The Journal acknowledges the whole Pontiac’s support, more than happy to give our readers this “free gift” every issue, the gift of local news.
It’s Pontiac’s small businesses who really make this dynamic work. The Journal depends directly upon them – and that’s one of the reasons for last week’s Readers’ Choice awards gala. The awards are a big thank-you from the Journal to our hundreds of businesses.
With the Journal’s partners, the Pontiac Conference Centre, CHIP-FM, and the SADC, this big party is free and celebrates local enterprise. The incredible public participation – all those ballots! – proves the public’s engagement and appreciation.
We have to help ourselves (and include all our economic actors – like the dairy
farmers who are fighting to keep the supply-management system alive in the face of NAFTA re-negotiations.) Pontiac’s history was built this way, and we’re all the stronger for it.
(Next issue: let’s talk about electing the best warden, mayors and councillors.)