What would help an an island economy grow?

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    Jan 31, 2012 12:41 AM GMT
    Maybe i can get RJers ideas on what could help this island province I live in to grow.

    Basic facts:

    smallest provincial population (400,000) , is aging.

    economy is based on potatoes and (to a lesser extent) a fishery our our total potato crop only about 15% is required for our needs. The rest supples MacDonalds, McCain, and we export thousands of tonnes to Russia (which was hit by a huge potato famine). There is not much else we can do to increase that market. There is limited land.

    Another large economic sector is tourism centred around golf, the weather,Anne of Green Gables and being the birthplace of Confederation. It has a long bridge. red sand and celtic music. Lots of musicians.

    we have a nascent biotechnology sector
    and a successful computer animation and gaming software industry.

    The largest employer is the federal Department of Veteran Affairs.

    our shoreline is fully spoken for, as are all offshore fishing rights. there are strict land ownership rules limiting the total aggregate amount of land one party can accumulate.

    WE have the highest unemployment rate in the vountry at 9%

    for every job there are 9 people who need one.

    outmigration is a big problem. once students graduate. they must go elsewhere to find work. Meanwhile we have the poorest literacy nationally.

    Holland College is here as is university of PEI; our meducal students go to Memorial in Newfoundland.

    the province pays to reserve 4 seats for island students there; the students must pay their own tuition.

    immigrant retention is abysmal.

    The population is very heterogenous and Islanders are slow to accept newcomers. Invariably the newcomers leave for larger cities for commujnity support or employment.

    Our government is totally dependent upon federal transfer payments; the island population could not afford to pay for the infrastrire services on their own.

    PEI offers Canada alittle more than ccess to the Atlantic. PEI had no desire to join Canada; But Britain could not maintain the expense of her defense after the US revolution. PEI, with its deep water harbour was an attractive base for merchant raiding.

    What is the secret to a small island economy growing and thriving?

    Advice from all political sides of the spectrum are welcome.
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    Jan 31, 2012 6:52 AM GMT
    Has there been any effort to perform a workforce development study based on the value chains which PEI participates?

    PEI has Aerospace, Bioscience, and Renewable Energy clusters. Take a look at Hawai'i for examples. http://www.htdc.org/

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    Jan 31, 2012 7:37 AM GMT

  • Suetonius

    Posts: 1830

    Jan 31, 2012 9:10 AM GMT
    You have great oysters there - and they continue to be imported into the US. Sometimes I wonder - why would someone there want the island to grow? You have a peaceful little island now - would the inhabitants be happy if it morphed into something like a suburb of Toronto with all the hustle and bustle (Yeah, I know - geographically, it is nowhere near Toronto). More roads; pollution; land prices going up resulting in smaller houses closer together. According to a government website, the (estimated) population in 2009 was 140,000 (so your estimate of 400,000 must be somewhat off). If one can believe Wikipedia, the island has increased its population over 25% since 1966. Is it only the economy you wish to grow, and not the number of people? Getting a booming economy is not likely, unless there were some great incentive for businesses to relocate there. And with industrial plants now closing in Canada and moving to the US because of lower wages in the US, why would any new industry operation locate in PEI?
    . Isn't a reason for locals emigrating to the mainland that the population has grown, but the number of jobs has not? Maybe the transfer payments from mainland Canada has only allowed the population to continue to grow when it should normally be decreasing.
    . Maybe the destiny of small islands is just to continue as they are (or decline in numbers). Scottish islands are being depopulated. If all the people who have emigrated from PEI to the mainland had instead stayed, and had more children, think of how many more people you would now have on that small island.
    . Discover oil. But that won't happen, or it already would have. It is a wealth of natural resources that have saved other similar places, such as rural Norway. from decline.
    . The island could try to develop tourism more. Having a lot more visitors only in the summer would be the lest impactful - but that has probably been a goal for decades.
    . Canada could let in a lot more refugees from the middle east and africa, Most of the inhabitants are dying to go somewhere. The island would benefit from all the welfare payments needed to sustain them. But that would totally change the island's culture, probably not to the liking of anyone already there. Dearborn, Michigan and Lackawanna, New York have survived such large scale immigration, but the original inhabitants are not too happy with the transformation.
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    Jan 31, 2012 3:51 PM GMT
    Hey U_C, this, "WE have the highest unemployment rate in the country at 9%

    for every job there are 9 people who need one.

    Did you mean for every 9 people working there is one who needs one?

    I think if only one out of 10 had a job it would indicate a 90% unemployment rate.

    warm regards,


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    Jan 31, 2012 4:28 PM GMT
    What would help an an island economy grow?

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    Jan 31, 2012 5:35 PM GMT
    I don't know what to tell you about your Island, but my three acre island camp economy is in the tank, you should come down here where its much warmer and you can run it, because fixing this three acre economy might be a lot easier than fixing your much bigger island economy. LOL