BY PAUL DILLON
In the 1992 U.S. presidential campaign between incumbent President George H.W. Bush and challenger Bill Clinton, the Clinton campaign hung a sign at campaign headquarters that was to become very famous. It simply said: “The Economy, Stupid.” The message it were sending with this simple phrase was basically the economy was something that affects every American and needed to be at the forefront of the campaign.
Historically there are always groups in any country, province, etc. that will never want to discuss the successes of any incumbent government. They will only want to discuss what they perceive to be failures and they will go to great lengths to convince people that these perceived failures are the most important thing(s) affecting you. So, let’s fast forward to today on P.E.I. and do a quick analysis on the current economy as this truly affects every Islander.
If the Island economy is strong, everyone prospers, albeit at different levels. There were some key economic challenges that needed to be overcome to ensure prosperity for all Islanders. Here are a few. Population strategy. P.E.I. now has one and currently leads the country in population growth, critical to get the budget balanced (it now is). Rural strategy for economic growth: Rural Economic Councils are all in place providing practical plans that are relevant to local rural communities, and the list goes on. Brilliant strategy is nothing without brilliant execution. On the broad scale, if we look at the P.E.I. Economic Dashboard Website we can measure the success of these economic strategies and if in fact there was brilliant execution. At the end of the day true, unbiased data will tell the accurate story.
Some current trends: Unemployment continues to fall, exports continue to rise, motor vehicle sales increased year-over-year, tourism visitation at an all-time high, retail sales increased year over year, strong markets for aquaculture, lobster and agriculture are fuelling strong returns for our primary industries, housing starts up over 19 per cent, building permits up over 120 per cent, GDP up 2.3 per cent, productivity up 4.8 per cent, net farm income up 7.4 per cent, lobster landed value up 28.9 per cent, manufacturing sales up 13.2 per cent.
So, as a small business owner in Tyne Valley, let’s narrow the field of vision and identify what all this has meant to my local rural economy. Investments in infrastructure for long term growth - new Tyne Valley Manor, fire hall upgrades, road/bridge improvements. Investments in economic development opportunities - Rock The Boat Music Festival (As a result of a local community volunteer committee, this event has become one of many Prince County events that are drawing Islanders and tourists to our community. Infrastructure is now in place for future events in Green Park), Tyne Valley Oyster Festival, Fall Flavours (Tyne Valley’s had the fastest sell out last September), etc. New start-up companies; Valley Pearl Oysters, P.E.I. Energy Homes, Farmboys Inc., Lennox Island Hatchery, Moth Lane Brewery, etc. Existing businesses continue to experience growth.
Success is mostly always measured by results and successful results rarely just happen by accident. Brilliant strategy plus brilliant execution will always equal brilliant results. Prince Edward Island is experiencing strong, sustained, economic growth. Tyne Valley and surrounding communities (as well as countless other Island communities) are contributing to this provincial good news story. Provincial/federal plans are working for Tyne Valley and indeed the entire province.
Now this doesn’t in any way say that the province is not without other challenges. Obviously, there are but we should also remember that a strong, vibrant economy allows for further investments to be made in areas like health, education, housing, etc.
From a personal and business perspective, I see and hear a new level of optimism out there right now, an attitude that says, “I can do that!” that perhaps we haven’t seen or felt in quite some time. Are we heading in the right direction? My thoughts are, absolutely! With continued hard work, realistic actionable goals and caring for our neighbours, our future looks very positive.
- Paul Dillon is a small business owner in Tyne Valley