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.