Pontiac’s mighty warriors . . . not who you think

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Dispatches from the 148 by Fred Ryan

While we often rightly thank our volunteers for their contribution to our community’s life, we ought not overlook other citizens whose contributions are equally decisive.


Dispatches from the 148 by Fred Ryan

While we often rightly thank our volunteers for their contribution to our community’s life, we ought not overlook other citizens whose contributions are equally decisive.

Teachers and school administrators, for one. Besides food, shelter, clean air and clothing, education is a crucial need of us all, yet one not getting the support it merits from government planners. It’s safe to say that at the base of every social problem there’s a lack of education. Education is not a part-time effort and it shouldn’t be a part-time social consideration, too.

Our cultural community is another area largely ignored, except in lip-service, by authorities and the rest of us. Artists and musicians, writers, too, add both a stabilizing element to our community as well as provide us with eyesight beyond the normal.
   
The Pontiac’s medical profession is another rarely-acknowledged group (publicly) who contribute in a crucial way to our well-being, from our family docs to pharmacists, nurses, administrators and medical technicians of all types. Most often we hear horror-stories about mistakes. We love to complain, it seems, but, really, where’s our appreciation for this exceptional help?
   
Another group rarely acknowledged are our home-grown and local entrepreneurs. Yup, these women and men, motivated by dreams of self-enrichment or not, deserve our profound respect and thanks. And, as for self-enrichment, let’s be clear that anyone focussed on self-enrichment gets a government job, works 9 to 5 and retires with an admirable pension well out of reach for (I’m estimating) 95% of entrepreneurs.  Local entrepreneurs rarely get rich, and when that happens it’s a result, usually, of super-human effort, big risk-taking, researched decisions, luck, and hours that leave little time for anything else. “Profit” is a goal, not the reality, in most rural small business ventures. 
Profit? The corporate world of the multi-nationals makes the profits, often at the expense of local businesses.  Local entrepreneurs have to be satisfied with more personal goals. Big corporates are rarely even entrepreneurial. We mustn’t confuse the two (even if our government routinely mixes them together, deliberately).
   
The local greenhouse or depanneur, restaurant or auto repair, the small manufacturer of farm equipment, and farmers themselves are after a profit and would love a nice pension, but the stats tell us success comes with absolutely no guarantee. No one will go on strike to make sure the local hair salon owner earns enough to cover her costs! And, yes, that’s her problem because she’s
chosen to do this.
   
Each decision to start, buy or expand a business serves us all. 
   
Imagine the Pontiac without local businesses. Some folks would love to see the Corporates here, the big-box retailers, fast-food “outlets”.  Some folks talk as if one big mill, factory – or grow-op – here would solve our employment problems.
   
Small businesses create most jobs, it’s clear. These jobs include our kids. Governments don’t create jobs. And mc’jobs are what we get from most multinationals.
   
It’s small businesses that keep our towns alive, which keep property values up and which support our municipalities in a big way. They support the communities they serve and upon which they intimately rely – hockey and ball teams, snowmobile clubs,  figure skating, Christmas parades, festivals, school ventures, social club functions, seniors’ residences, benefits . . . you name it. Without small business, our communities would only be dormitories, places to sleep before we drive off to work elsewhere. How inspiring is that?
   
When the Chamber of Commerce and the Journal’s Readers’ Choice Awards
celebrate local businesses, all entrepreneurs are being celebrated. They take the big risks, fail often, put in hours well beyond the imagination of most of us. And when they do miss the mark, it’s the entrepreneur who gets up, dusts herself off, and looks around for another opportunity.
   
That’s a community’s back-bone, and we have a small but powerful group here in the Pontiac. Support them! Applaud them, thank them . . . and don’t forget the volunteers, teachers, nurses, and municipal councillors.
   
Staying alive is every rural community’s main challenge these days. We all do pull together, but look around and you’ll see our local business folks are working like crazy – for us.