The poverty of leadership


By Woody Armour

Kemptville has a problem, it is a problem of poverty, of human poverty and commercial poverty, and they are related and intertwined. This poverty problem, both human and commercial, is a structural problem caused by councils in the past ignoring the situation that has developed; however it has reached the point such that it cannot be overlooked any longer. Other opportunities have existed, these options were written about in past articles, opportunities that other communities have  adopted and developed. In addition to the structural problem, there is also the distress caused by the Canadian dollar’s decline, a distinct second problem, which compounds the first.

The effects of these two events together are serious stress, anxiety, and material shortages. The unfortunate aspect is that it is the least able to cope and adjust who bear the brunt. If the lives of these affected people are to be improved, we must deal with the underlying cause, the lack of local jobs, as a major priority.

So, the type of employment we must generate is of the small business type, which has the ability to “grow” their sales, i.e., export their product outside their home territory, and this “exporting” can be done via  parcel post supported by a web site, or by a store front or Factory outlet. Here, then, are a few examples. Please note that all of these proposals use the Canadian dollar situation to advantage and thus turn a current problem into an advantage.

A malt house. These malt houses can range from quite small to very large. There are off-the-shelf feasibility and business plans provided by University extension departments. In addition, the malt houses are building blocks upon which other industries are built, e.g. craft brewing, as well as food additives. Craft Brewing and craft brew pubs are self-explanatory. A benefit of a brew pub or two in the area would be the tourist draw, and they would certainly spruce up the main street, something a chain store cannot duplicate.

A small oil seed crushing plant.  Again, this is a business which has feasibility plans available on University sites.  Common seeds crushed are soya seed, pumpkin seeds, mustard seeds and corn kernels to name a few. There are lists available of crushable seeds. This is an export industry, and an enabling industry that can be set up on a very small scale to start.

Essential oil production, which can be done either by steam extraction or alcohol extraction. Again, this is an enabling industry, and can become a very large business starting at a very modest  level. Most essential oils in Canada are imported.

A cheese factory producing hard cheese. This idea has been discussed in previous articles. When this was first proposed, Council immediately dismissed the idea. Other municipalities did not dismiss the idea, and cheese factories have been built elsewhere. This is an export industry, and a community attraction. There are numerous food processing opportunities partially dependent on local production. If this part is well done, the College campus could easily become a tourist draw based on local outlets.

Finally there is a requirement for a laboratory to deal with leaf analysis, soil analysis, malt analysis, hops analysis and any necessary analysis required to support food preparation businesses. I would also point out the vast majority of the businesses require local people to operate them, and local farms to provide product in many cases. This proposal will go a long way towards solving the cost of exchange problem.

Once these industries are in place, there will be a need for conference facilities and meeting spaces. An attractive feature of this proposal is that it, the agricultural centre, can co-exist with the chain stores and thrive, independently. The other major asset is that these businesses are scalable and would also attract other businesses. This means that one could estimate the base cost of the operations, then use “what if” calculations to backtrack and determine what size of industries are needed to support a certain cost structure. In the establishment of this proposal, accountants, lawyers and web designers will be required on an ongoing basis. This proposal is actually proposing an agriculturally based industry cluster at the college.

What is missing from this discussion is the equine industry, the various livestock industries and the commodities groups. Little is known about these industries. I have also left out the educational possibilities, and that is a separate item for another day. If you set the Farmers Market in the centre of all of this, you now have a vibrant situation. The poverty of leadership must be dealt with as quickly as possible, and the easiest method to do this is to select two new councillors, from the election results, and not by appointment. The poverty of ideas is a lack of vision of what could be created. This proposal will solve the “poverty of ideas” problem, and the new councillors will solve the “poverty of leadership” problem.

I leave you to your thoughts.


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