Commentary – What’s in your town?

Jeff Burgar

A person very unhappy with his town [none of our communities] had much to say. He wanted to open a business. He claimed his local government was doing everything it could to stop him.

“They won’t tell me where I can open my business. They won’t tell me what kind of permits I need. They tell me I need to get special permission from town council. I think in the end, they just don’t want me to open my new business. I’m going to move. There’s a town down the road that is really expanding and growing. They would love to have me.”

More chat with the fellow revealed it wasn’t his local government being the issue. It was one town councillor.

And it turned out, either the fellow was completely wrong in his understanding what the councillor was telling him, or the councillor himself didn’t have a clue what he was saying.

To explain: The fellow admitted he wasn’t sure if the councillor told him to look at the bylaws regarding zoning and development. Then the fellow didn’t know if it was a development officer, and not council, who would approve his business, following the rules about developments in his town.

There are rules?

And of course, why does the fellow think it will be different down the road at the next town?

I completely understand the fellow’s frustration. In too many towns, counties and local governments, there just aren’t enough people who can talk realistically about business, even the people in business themselves.

It isn’t just the rules about opening a business. What about operating and managing business? Dealing with staff. Customers. Banks. Financial statements are a bedrock of what goes on in everything from business to government. Are the basics of such taught in school? In fact, is there very much talk about “the business end” of business taught in any of our schools?

Leaders around the world love to talk about the lack of females in STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering and Medicine. Many say this is because ladies simply are not encouraged by society, and the education system itself, to explore a future in such fields.

If that’s the problem, it shouldn’t be surprising there is even less interest by both males and females in going into business. Entrepreneurship is an even more neglected topic than STEM.

Local governments say they are always looking for people to invest in their communities. One would think the most likely candidates are already there, growing up and being educated in schools right now. Ten or 15 years from now, where will they be? Engineers in a city? Teachers? Lawyers? Politicians? Doctors?

Or will they be local plumbers and electricians and carpenters? Will they be operating local restaurants, drug or clothing stores, machine shops and mills and plants?

Almost every one of which requires some understanding of business and profits.

All need a spark to get the blood and excitement flowing, no matter how old the mind and body might be.

Where and how do we create and encourage those sparks?

 

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