Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Trouble With Progress...

If the title of this entry seems counter intuitive that is because it was meant to be. In theory "progress" implies forward motion and advancement. In practice however,it seldom happens this way. More typically progress is accompanied by setbacks. This should come as no surprise to those of us who have  lived long enough to experience the cyclical nature of Canada's economy and life in general for that matter. As I enter my 44th year and look back over my own life the pattern has been not surprisingly, quite similar. In general, people make forward progress for most of their lives, experience setbacks, learn from them and then we move on. We should also not be surprised when we experience the same thing in our local economy.

The simple and unfortunate truth is, some businesses don't survive economic downturns. Some thrive however, under the same conditions. New enterprises open to meet the changing needs and wants of an increasingly savvy and discriminating consumer class. Did you know that in the last few months five new businesses have opened up in Trail and several more are scheduled to open before Christmas ?There are in fact some true rays of light within our business community, yet somehow the setbacks have taken center stage in our recent past. This practice of focusing on the negative happenings locally is a morbid curiosity we cannot afford to continue. Our focus must be on where we are going and the plans for moving forward,not on what didn't work or why another town has X and we don't. I was reminded recently by a friend of an often used sports analogy that is quite applicable to our current scenario, "We have to play our own game" .We can't let the other teams mess with our offense by keeping us on defense. Be assured that a protective strategy exists, but spouting it from the steps of City Hall would render it useless.

You should be aware that over the next few months, the City of Trail will begin the first stages of construction towards the fulfillment of the MMM Downtown Revitalization Plan. Contrary to some misleading headlines and media reports, the plan is moving forward on schedule with the single exception of a shifted date for paving Victoria Ave. This change will result in a significant cost savings for Trail tax payers. Your City will begin to look different. Embrace the changes and encourage others to do the same. Invite your friends and family from out of town to come and visit. If you are a local business owner, consider improving your storefront and premises to take advantage of the potential tax exemptions on increased assessments from those improvements. A regulatory change is coming soon that will allow for this in 2013. Exciting things are happening in your city and our local economy is poised for expansion. With the major projects underway at Teck, a new 5 year collective agreement for their workforce and the Waneta Dam expansion fueling growth, conditions have not been better in a long time to open a business in Trail. Don't let national decisions made in Toronto about chain stores and baseless claims about onerous licensing fees fool you into believing that success is not possible in our marketplace. Our business tax rates are among the lowest in the province and they are certainly the lowest in our region. We currently have economic fundamentals that most other regions in BC dream about.

Progress is not perfect. Nor is it achieved without consistent effort and the tenacity required to overcome setbacks. While there are no guarantees of success in any new venture, what I can say for certain (to borrow another sports analogy-from Wayne Gretzky) , is that "We will miss 100% of the shots we don't take."


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