Interesting news highlighted in an op-ed by Senators Corker and Coons with regards to a new Food for Peace Reform Act. The legislation, originally submitted in 2015 and resubmitted depicts one of many critical needs for refugee support services in international settings such as the developing famine crisis in Sudan. Beyond basic needs of food and shelter, refugees resettled in the U.S. require a variety of psycho-social, education, health care and economic development services. These services help speed up the process of assimilation which in turn can provide economic benefits both to these new American households but also to their newly adopted communities.
After my recent research into community economic development in Atikokan and Siene River First Nations (Ontario) in September, my travels will take me to Ely, MN this month to discuss similar economic potential with business and community leaders. Like so many other rural communities, this small rural community on the doorstep of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area wilderness managed by the USFS is at a crossroads of an aging demographic and lower patronage rates to the park resulting in fewer tourism dollars. Sulfide mining presents an opportunity both in terms of jobs, increased local business growth and a future for youth so that they may stay in the area. . It is a chance for communities, similar to Atikokan to survive. A central question that I will continue to explore in future posts is whether extractive industries are the only option for a community’s survival, particularly for the retention of its youth or other options available such as expanding environmental tourism or a blend of both? Check out a couple rural perspectives in these links here in Ely and MN
As the summer hiatus is winding down here in North America, I finished up some business and vacation travels that took me from the Midwest through parts of southern Ontario and Quebec into New England. What strikes me most when I pass through some of these small communities is their proximity to nearby tourist destinations and how little some have appeared to benefit economically from this. I wondered what sustainable community development from an economic perspective looks like if towns don’t benefit from these typically large “revenue-generators”. Where is the intersection of tourism and sustainable community development located and what does this symbiotic relationship look like? There are several perspectives and resources accessible here that can provide some intellectual momentum for finding these complex solutions.