But if this story in The Southwest Times is accurate, I - we - should be outraged and ashamed. It's rather hard to follow because of certain "cutting edge" vernacular that's difficult to comprehend, like "localized economy" and "place-based economy," but here is the nut of it:
Town considers place-driven economyLocal artisans and the marketing of their products ...
By Jack Martin, Staff Report
PULASKI — Development of a localized economy was the theme of Wednesday's meeting of the Pulaski Economic Development Board.
Using gleanings from the recent "Creating a New Economy in Southwest Virginia" conference in Abingdon as a springboard, the board discussed home-grown ways of buffing up the town's economic physique.
Board member Jennifer White, who attended the meeting, introduced the concept of a place-based economy as a key to economic revitalization. White quoted Becky Anderson, founder of Handmade in America, Inc., a speaker the meeting, "We are rushing into a period in which any product or service that is not place-dependent, in other words, that can be produced or provided anywhere, will be provided everywhere."
White went on to explain that products or services that are not dependent upon providing experiences unique to a locality or region are prey for outsourcing.
According to White, technology such as broadband and its associated infrastructure are not enough for a community to be successful in today's economy. She emphasized the need for communities to draw upon their own uniqueness to develop and sustain economic growth and stability.
A primary strategy for development of a place-based economy, White said, was the recognition of local artisans and the marketing of their products.
If I'm understanding the message from this conference correctly, it can be summarized this way:
We here in Southwest Virginia cannot compete for the global marketplace. We need no longer try. For that reason, we must pattern our economy after that of the Navajo out in the Sonora Desert. We all need to learn to weave baskets and sit by the side of the road in native costume (Confederate homespun?) and hope that a tourist drives by and hands us a couple of bucks for our work. We'll charge another dollar for a photo. And if we can all learn to sing and play the banjo, well, all the better.
That, you see, is our destiny. So sayeth our best and brightest.
Why don't we hang a sign over every high school and community college entrance in Wise and Bristol and Salem and Floyd and Clintwood and Bluefield and Galax:
ABANDON HOPE, ALL YE WHO ENTER HEREThat, to be sure, is the message. Along with this one aimed at our young men and women:
THE BUS OUT-O-HERE LEAVES AT 10To think, 400 people attended this conference - the headline speaker at which was Governor Kaine - and came away with such a hopeless plan. If these are our civic leaders, we do in fact have reason to feel our future is bleak.