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Friday, March 6, 2015

Economic Development in Point Roberts

In the 20+ years I've lived here, I've gone to a lot of meetings of one sort or another.  The quilters' group is an exception, but otherwise I can't think of a single group that has not at one time or another, and more often more often, brought up the issue of "Economic Development."  "What we need in Point Roberts is an economic development plan," some guy pontificates.  How that would happen, is not further discussed.

My educational background is in literature, philosophy, law, and medicine, so I wouldn't be looking to me for enlightenment on economic development.  And yet, at least three of those give me some imaginative reach to a Point Roberts that has economic development.   Since it's a rural area, there would be farms with large machines that would need maintenance by well-paid employees.  (Not so much since our scant total of almost 5 square miles is not going to provide much in the way of agricultural development.  Forestry?  Well, we could cut down all the trees in Point Roberts in a couple of weeks, I suppose, and then our main claim to tourism would be gone.  A series of small factories producing....what?  Given the necessary border issues, not very likely because not very competitive.  We could have a lot of home-based consultants providing services over the internet, which might be doable if we had internet with any great speed, which we do not.  But even if we did, such consultant businesses don't hire a lot of employees, so.....

Our major businesses are package/parcel services and gas stations.  Is there a plan by which we could have even more of these and would anybody think that was a good idea?  The tourism business has some play: you can come here and go to the beach or rent a bicycle or go fishing off the pier (if there were a pier) or go to the library.  The library is available year round but the beach and bicycles are very much a partial year activity, and the fishing?  Perhaps don't ask but the County thinks maybe next year, or maybe the year after that.  Or sometime.  And then there is the fact that there are only 1300 of us who are permanent residents and half of us are retired and 200 are kids, neither of which groups is looking for good-paying jobs.  Maybe a tiny town devoted to assisted living services?

Well, my imaginative expedition fails to find economic development in our future.  Someone at those meetings is always touting 'an artist colony' or 'a concert venue', although they don't explain exactly what is the economic development likely from an artist colony, or why the Trinity Lutheran Church is not already a terrific concert venue for small audiences.  And our current concert series, which is very high quality, does not exactly fill that space week after week.  "Let's go down to the Point and buy some gas, pick up a package, and go to a concert"...Doesn't ring true to me.

So, perhaps some of our readers can tell us what would be the elements of an economic development plan for Point Roberts.  I've read a fair amount on this topic around the net, and the descriptions of the places looking for development never seem to come with the problematic aspects of the Point.  I found this site particularly helpful.  The last few pages include survey instruments that are particularly informative and fun to try to fill out.  One of the surveys inquires about 20 things we should have to pursue economic development.  Police and fire departments were the only things I was confident I could say yes to what with the Border personnel from Homeland Security, 1 County sheriff, and about 30 volunteer firemen who live in Canada or somewhere else in the state of Washington.  Well, sort of yes...


1 comment:

Miep said...

Well, you could always pave paradise and put up a parking lot.