I started letting my vision expand. I imagined us renovating the kitchen next door. A small, funky cafe moving into the space. The small breakout rooms becoming podcasting and multi media centres. We expand the co-working space into the room opposite because members are pouring in. The conference room down the corridor becomes part of the HUB as a meeting space, creative lab and workshop venue. We open up the entrance with the big stairs for the HUB and suddenly we are occupying the whole first floor. It is thriving hub of entrepreneurial activity, full of people building a resilient economy, and supporting each other making a good living doing work they love.
The visit of Premier Darrell Dexter and MLA Pam Birdsall to The HUB on Friday brought much attention and excitement to Mahone Bay. A quick coffee at the fabulous Biscuit Eaterand it was over to the MBC for some great chat about the future of The HUB (South Shore and beyond) and Nova Scotia, and in particular how they are an integral part of each others DNA.
It was particularly refreshing to hear that our belief that a hidden economy exists in rural Nova Scotiais shared at high political levels. And how encouraging to hear that something is being done to give that economy a voice.
There is a realisation that Nova Scotia is an attractive option for Canadians to start their own business, as well as an amazing opportunity for come-from-aways to come and start a new life. This is affirmed by the governments committment to increasing the number of immigrants and also supporting them to settle into their new way of life. The HUB network can help facilitate the transition.
Our conversation also proved that this is not a 3 man crusade: it is more than Tim, Matt and Dave. This is a movement across Atlantic Canada born out of a need within Rural Communities. As Mauricio Duarte explained, The HUB Annapolis Valley represents a need to keep local talent local, with increasing numbers of young brainiac’s heading to Halifax and beyond.
Alastair Jarvis made the point that Halfax is the centre of gravity, but The HUB South Shore and other rural hubs can help change that. Tracy and Jo from The HUB Halifax explained that the model for Atlantic Canada cannot be to force a HUB upon a community, rather than to let the need for one provide the catalyst and they like the rest of us will be there to connect and support it.
However, as explained to the Premier these Hubs do not come without a cost, the major stumbling block for many hubs being start up cost. The founders of The HUB South Shore lead a fortunate life with the capacity to invest personal income, supported amazingly by the Mahone Bay Centre and the incredible volunteers who work there. However, not all hubs are in this position, and investment is required to make them become a reality. Our meeting today was a great opportunity to highlight the problems we all face, and to acknowledge that we are not alone.
Here in Nova Scotia, that tired phrase rural economy brings to mind agriculture, forestry, fishing boats, and tourism — that last one is especially ‘in your face’ here in Mahone Bay. These are necessary engines — they provide jobs, practical skills, and a stream of visitors and artisans that the region would struggle without. Necessary — but are they enough?
What is rural?
Rural just means ‘not urban’, and the South Shore is certainly not urban — that’s one of the reasons many of us live here. But ‘rural’ also has strong parochial connotations. You even hear people, visitors from big cities mostly, talk about ‘going back in time’, or how ‘time slows down’ out here. (If only that were true!)
But these stereotypes are out of date. We have to redefine what the rural economy is about in today’s Nova Scotia.
Not rural, but everywhere
The Internet has transformed the rural economy into the everywhere economy. Do you agree? Is this the future of Nova Scotia? Leave a comment!