A lot of municipalities are talking about resiliency and diversification right now, but what defines resilience and how does a community achieve it?
Essentially, resilience is measured by a community’s ability to recover from a downturn or shock. That shock could be economic such as: a general downturn in the economy; closure of a major employer; or macro-economic transition to a non-traditional economic base (e.g. assembly plants to knowledge-based advanced manufacturing).
Shock could equally be a shock delivered by Mother Nature such as Southern Alberta’s 2013 floods; The Beast that hit Fort Mac last year; or Goderich, Ontario’s 2011 tornado. All can be devastating for local businesses, residents and the local Council.
The bottom-line is: How quickly can you recover? The ability to react quickly is closely related to
- The historic flexibility of a community
- Preparedness: how well Council and staff have anticipated and planned their social, economic and physical infrastructure for risk events.
In today’s economy, the communities that survive and thrive have:
- An attractive, desirable environment with quality infrastructure, services and amenities for families, newcomers and visitors;
- A diversified economy that doesn’t rely on one sector and is resistant to economic shocks;
- A business-friendly Council and administration that is proactive in helping existing and new businesses thrive;
- A workforce with the skills required by employers, and a willingness to learn and be trained;
- An engaged Chamber of Commerce and other business groups;
- A up to date asset database that recognizes physical, economic, and social strengths;
- Attraction(s) and a unique selling proposition (USP) for each specific target audience: residents, visitors and investors;
- Current, practiced, and understood emergency planning, and most importantly:
- A strategic plan of how to make that happen!
Follow future blogs on: Planning for Resiliency; Community Case Study in Resiliency
Shawna Lawson (Stonehouse) BComm (UofA), MSc (Planning), EcD is a McSweeney Economic Development Associate Consultant, responding to the particular needs smaller municipalities that require economic and community development services. Shawna has worked with communities in Ontario, Alberta, the U.K. and Asia towards economic sustainability.