The public has had their say, and now the consultants will have a crack at it. The Queens County Attraction Strategy is moving to the next step in its development: to come up with a plan of action.
News from The Advance
Over the past few months the Queens Revitalization Committee has been asking the public what they see as the important parts of an attraction strategy, falling under three pillars: health and wellness, research and arts and culture.
Now that they have heard what the community has said, it is being turned over to a group of consultants to create an action plan.
"It's not talk anymore. It's action," said Jill Cruickshank, director of economic development for the Region of Queens.
A meeting was held on Oct. 16 to introduce the public to the consultants, David Harrison from David W. Harrison Ltd. in Dartmouth and Louis Grenier from DAA Strategies in Montreal.
"We're here to establish a process where these various opportunities can be acted on," said Harrison.
The goal is not to create a document that just sits on a shelf, he added. It will have a monitoring strategy as well, to outline what sort of steps need to fall in place for a project to become a reality.
Not all suggestions will work for the community he said, but the plan will have ways to either work around them or follow a new path.
Louis Grenier is the second head of the team, and has 30 years experience creating attraction strategies. He says he is already impressed with the work that the community has done to come up with the ideas. It means they can concentrate on creating the process.
Grenier's work has taken him all across Canada, but he says the work he is most proud of is creating a strategy for Bathurst. He and his company have been working with the small New Brunswick city for the past 15 years. When they started, unemployment was in the double digits. Despite an economy that went bad and a mine that closed, unemployment has stayed in the single digits.
He won't take credit for the work though. Grenier created a strategy based on the city's identified needs, and it was the "champions in the community" that made it work.
Harrison's work is on a smaller scale, with community organizations. An example he cited was a mental health organization in Halifax. The organization created three social enterprises in the community, similar to what Penny Lane has done with the Riverbank General Store in Mill Village, and created a mental health housing project.
Monica Howard, a member of the revitalization committee, said they were looking for an organization that would complement their needs and also be strengths to their weaknesses. When done, they want a plan that is actionable.
"The only failure will be doing nothing," she said.
The community will not see an instant change when action gets underway, says Grenier. The easier items might take 24 months, while other larger goals will take five to six years. The key though is making the community an active force in accomplishing those goals.
"Success in economic development is based on the community," he said.