You want a bright prosperous future in Annapolis County? Well, short of striking oil, it looks like immigration is the key. That plus small business creation, retention, and expansion are two of the big planks the Annapolis Digby Economic Development Agency has hammered down in its 2010-11 business plan.
And it makes sense. Out migration of youth and young adults, plus an aging population staying behind has made this area the national capitol of senior citizens. The average age in Annapolis County is climbing higher by the day and unless new blood is introduced, there won’t be a workforce.
Are we going to bring all those ex-pats back? Some day, maybe, if we can create a more vibrant economy into which they can invest their lives and families. An influx of newcomers from around the world could infuse the local economy with just such a vital atmosphere -- and at the very least halt the tide of out-migration as these new families invest time, money, and hard work.
There may be naysayers, but the fact is, it’s already been happening here. More than 2,000 immigrants moved into the area between the last two census, and have already proved that the ADEDA idea works. Walk the streets of any town or community and you’ll hear numerous languages and accents.
On March 18, ADEDA launched its Immigration Portal (see story Page 3) with the enthusiastic endorsement of Immigration Minister Ramona Jennex who firmly believes that immigration is the future. In fact her department hopes to double immigration targets.
The irony is that many of us are only a generation or two away from immigrant ancestors. Yet we think of immigration as something that could only have happened in the distant past – the pioneers, the settlers, the Planters, the United Empire Loyalists. Not so. Immigration in large waves may not happen as it once did. Immigration has been more of a trickle now that large tracts of land aren’t part of the deal. But Canada, and Nova Scotia, still hold many attractions and there is space, and there is opportunity – perhaps opportunity better seen and recognized by newcomers.
We may be able to tread the water of our current stagnant economy, but without the help of friends from around the world we might not make much headway against the tide of a competitive and ever-changing global economy.