I was reading an article reporting that residents of the Sunshine Coast tend to shop locally. The article was about a presentation of a gap analysis study conducted by Best Coast Initiative economic development officer, Murray McLaughlin to the SCRD. The study was to determine how much of the local economy is spent locally and how much actually is spent off- coast. The headline read “COAST TENDS TO SHOP LOCALLY: STUDY”. This made me think about this shopping locally issue and our economy here on the coast.
What do we produce locally? What do we manufacture locally?
We are dependant on sources outside our community to supply even our most basic needs. A tour of a supermarket or a local retail store shows very few local products on the shelves.
What is the economic backbone of our community? Our major manufacturing is from the pulp mill, Howe Sound Pulp and Paper. Howe Sound Pulp and Paper has an annual production capacity of 400,000 tonnes of pulp and 230,000 tonnes of newsprint. The company is owned by Canfor Corporation of Vancouver and Oji Paper Co. Ltd of Tokyo. HSPP employs about 675 local residents. Local sale of newsprint is to the Coast Reporter newspaper with a weekly circulation of 13,680. Other sales are off-coast markets.
Construction is the second largest manufacturing industry on the coast providing about 11% of local employment. Population growth and economic growth conditions effect this industry. How much of the materials used by this industry come from off-coast?
We live in a community that relies on ferry access. Transportation and fuel costs affect the cost of goods and services in our community.
In a previous article about the WORLD WAR II, I wrote about how global trade collapsed and countries all over the world were faced with shortages. What would happen if the supply of materials that we import to our community was shut down? Are we prepared if there is an oil shortage or even if the ferries go on strike.
We do not grow enough food locally to feed our community.
Could we meet the basic needs of food, shelter and clothing, if we could not depend on outside sources?
Maybe we need to really look at local economy, and when we embrace shop local we also support locally owned business and local production and manufacturing. We need some ideas and inspiration to move forward.
One source of inspiration, I have found is the work of PAUL GUNTI of the ZERO EMMISSIONS INITIATIVE, and the author of “THE BLUE ECONOMY” . Paul Gunti for the past five years has focused on innovations that could shift the present economic model at the grass roots by introducing multiple innovations generating multiple cash flows, responding to basic needs with what is locally available, generating jobs and social capital. I highly recommend signing up for his newsletters to read every week about a new innovation and business plan. An example is using the biomass from coffee production to grow mushrooms generating more jobs, more income and more food. Check out: www.blueplanet.org
Perhaps by using a new economic model that aims at improving life by promoting innovative solutions that challenge mainstream thinking on economic, environment and social issues, we can work in partnership and put people and the planet first.