Economic Development In Michigan’s Oldest City

SSMPeople in my circles throw the term ‘Economic Development’ around a lot. Over the past several years there have been many semantic variations of ‘ED’, Economic Gardening being one of them.  Most people, outside of government work,  have questioned what that really means. I think it means something different than what my government friends think as well as my civilian friends.

The Sault is probably one of the coolest places on earth; culture, engineering, history, natural beauty. It offers so much. Why then, does it seem so far behind similar towns in our fine state in the area of Economic Development? I’d like to discuss how the community can change that but first, lets review the basics.

tonybiddlecartoon2Economics – Is a social science concerned chiefly with description and analysis of the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services (

Social Science – A branch of science that deals with the institutions and functioning of human society and with the interpersonal relationships of individuals as members of society (

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Fundamentally, economic developers (entrepreneurs, government/municipal, buyers and sellers of goods) very often forget about the interpersonal relationships of individuals in commerce.

For Example: If one goes in to business with the attitude or mindset of becoming rich, rather than to offer a product or service that is needed and valued within the community, they will not succeed. It is through developing and maintaining good relationships with community members that wealth will come.

Like in Medicine, the symptoms of a disease may manifest itself in several ways, however, the manifestations are the results of a greater issue. If a doctor only teats the symptoms, the outcomes could be lethal.

The issues to economic development might not be to attract and retain businesses, do street-scapes and beautification projects or to entice developers to buy and build on vacant land. I would suggest these actions would be treating a symptom rather than a disease. We need to shift our paradigm to focus on people.

We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing while others judge us by what we have already done.—Longfellow

What separates people is not the presence or absence of difficulty, but how they deal with the inevitable difficulties of life. —James C. Collins

Focus on other people’s needs and desires, and you will never, ever be short of what you yourself desire and need.—Rabbi Daniel Lapin

The foundation intent of business is to serve others, or, the Golden Rule.  It is therefore, not surprising that economics used to be a field of study that belonged within the realm of religion and theology. Adam Smith, as well as many other eighteenth-century economists, were religious philosophers first, economists only second. Smith wrote his book Theory of Moral Sentiments before he wrote the more well-known, Wealth of Nations.

Whether or not you are religious is irrelevant. It is however, undeniable that commerce is strictly a human activity, and, along with our unique ability to change. We are not Animals nor Angles, we are human and people are the greatest asset a community and business has.

As stated in an article posted on Saturday, ‘…Marriage is America’s most effective anti-poverty program‘, it is clear that good relationships are the foundations of economic growth. There are some good statistics in that article worth reviewing. So what can our community do to grow economically? Encourage and work on creating good relationships.  We will be discussing what that looks like in coming weeks.

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