Michael Shuman – economist and author of the hot-selling business book “The Small-Mart Revolution” – is speaking today in McCloud, and while Nestle isn’t on the agenda, it’s heartening to see the town healing some of the Nestle-spawned rifts in a quest for sustainable, high-quality economic choices.
The event – hosted by the McCloud Chamber of Commerce – has been called a pro-McCloud event designed to help the
economically depressed area recover after the loss of timber jobs.
Early reports suggest attendance was double the original estimate, suggesting a lot of interest in economic development.
The idea behind’s Shuman’s best-selling book is simple; small communities become sustainable (economically speaking) not by attracting big corporations, but instead by aiding and nurturing locally grown businesses, and making sure residents spend their money locally. From his Web site:
The Small-Mart Revolution details dozens of specific strategies small and home-based businesses are using to successfully out-compete the world’s largest companies. And it shows how consumers, investors, policymakers, and organizers can effectively revitalize their own communities by supporting local businesses.
Too often, Nestle’s able to cast decisions about its bottling plants in pro-jobs vs anti-growth terms, overlooking the simple fact that small towns can typically do a lot better than an economic development model where the profits are pipelined back to a foreign multinational.
Sadly, many towns are abdicating control of their precious water resources in return for some property tax revenues and a handful of jobs that even Nestle admits are salaried at levels no higher than the prevailing wages in the area.
In simplest terms, sustainable, high-quality rural economic development isn’t about attracting big businesses, which take an area’s resources and the profits and ship them elsewhere – leaving behind a lot of infrastructure costs and a handful of jobs (which isn’t true in the case of loading stations or water extraction points).
Thankfully, McCloud’s taking a good look at its options.
We’ll post a follow-up report when it’s available.
In the meantime, those actively opposing Nestle in their community should look hard at offering alternatives – given good options, Nestle’s truck traffic and sub-living-wage jobs look a lot less attractive.
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