Im­port re­place­ment info ses­sion at NSCC in Shel­burne


The Cen­tre for Lo­cal Pros­per­ity is fol­low­ing up on the study re­leased in Fe­bru­ary – Im­port Re­place­ment: Lo­cal Pros­per­ity for Ru­ral At­lantic Canada – with a day-long pub­lic in­for­ma­tion ses­sion and work­shop at the NSCC Shel­burne Cam­pus on Oct. 20.

Shel­burne County was one of the four case stud­ies in the re­port that was two years in the mak­ing. An im­port re­place­ment strat­egy seeks to re­place im­ported goods and ser­vices through lo­cal pro­duc­tion.

Im­port re­place­ment builds eco­nomic re­silience through busi­nesses and res­i­dents be­ing able to pur­chase some of their needed goods and ser­vices from lo­cal sources, rather than hav­ing to im­port these goods and ser­vices from out­side of the re­gion.

“Our re­sults in­di­cate that there is very sig­nif­i­cant eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment po­ten­tial within Shel­burne County through adopt­ing a strat­egy for lo­cal­iz­ing pro­cure­ment and pur­chas­ing, es­pe­cially by an­chor in­sti­tu­tions in the county,” said Robert Cervelli, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor for the Cen­tre for Lo­cal Pros­per­ity. “Im­port re­place­ment keeps money in the com­mu­nity.”

Im­port re­place­ment is a leadingedge lo­cal eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment strat­egy that seeks to pro­duce lo­cally those goods and ser­vices that are cur­rently im­ported into a com­mu­nity or re­gion as a way to keep money and wealth cir­cu­lat­ing in the re­gion.

Since study was re­leased, re­sponse in the re­gion has been very good, said Cervelli. “We’ve been ap­proached by quite a num­ber of com­mu­ni­ties and mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, we’re prob­a­bly in dis­cus­sion with 15 dif­fer­ent com­mu­ni­ties around the re­gion right now who are in­ter­ested in the whole idea.”

Cervelli said the Cen­tre for Lo­cal Pros­per­ity has been talk­ing with other groups that have im­ple­mented im­port re­place­ment strate­gies suc­cess­fully in other parts of the world. “One in par­tic­u­lar is over in Eng­land,” he said.

“There was a town com­pletely down on its luck, hit rock bot­tom in 2010, 2011, and what they did, they talked with six of their pub­lic in­sti­tu­tions in town and got them to look at how they could start to spend some of their pro­cure­ment bud­gets lo­cally or more of their pro­cure­ments lo­cally,” he said. “In the course of four years they moved 73 mil­lion pounds ster­ling per year. That was new money ev­ery year go­ing into the lo­cal econ­omy that was leak­ing out be­fore. That re­ally re-gal­va­nized the whole town.”

Cervelli said the same model can be ap­plied in just about ev­ery com­mu­nity.

“In any com­mu­nity there are hos­pi­tals, schools, com­mu­nity col­leges, pub­lic in­sti­tu­tions, they could be uni­ver­si­ties, they could be pub­lic hous­ing, mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, it could be a lot of other things and very quickly it adds up hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars be­ing spent ev­ery year and spend­ing it some­where.,” he said. “The ques­tion be­comes where are they spend­ing the money and how much could be spent on lo­cal busi­ness? In a lot of cases the busi­nesses aren’t big enough at the get-go, so how do you build up the ca­pac­ity of the lo­cal busi­nesses … it’s not rocket science. It’s just get­ting every­body to think dif­fer­ently. Some peo­ple don’t think it’s pos­si­ble. We think it’s en­tirely doable and it’s been proven to work in other parts of the world. It takes some peo­ple pulling to­gether and talk­ing about it.”

The im­port re­place­ment in­for­ma­tion ses­sion and work­shop is sched­uled from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Oct. 20 at the NSCC Shel­burne Cam­pus. The in­for­ma­tion ses­sion will be held in the morn­ing. The af­ter­noon ses­sions will get more into the nuts and bolts of lo­cal pro­cure­ment pro­cesses for public­sec­tor an­chor in­sti­tu­tions in the county.

Cervelli said or­ga­niz­ers hope for a good turnout. Lunch will be pro­vided.

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