In the latter years of the last century, Montreal economic development specialists were in the midst of a dramatic change: their manufacturing sector was about to experience serious decline. The Canadian dollar was depressed against the US dollar, and outsourcing made manufacturing facilities move across borders and overseas. Like many of the world's wealthiest nations, Canada was watching its manufacturing sector shrink. Between 2004 and 2008, one in seven manufacturing jobs had disappeared.
Montreal was determined to not become a victim of outsourcing and other changing market forces. Montreal business and policy leaders became proactive in its actions, working to move manufacturing sector workers from the factory floor to other jobs. Montreal worked with higher education programs -- universities and technical schools -- to provide unemployed manufacturing sector workers with access to career opportunities and retraining. they surveyed their industry landscape and noticed that they had growing clusters in other market areas that had not yet been accessed. The business and policy leaders worked together with small businesses, nonprofits, corporations, governments, and support organizations to craft policies and programs to enhance those heretofore under appreciated industries. In 2007, manufacturing lost 19,000 jobs while service sector jobs increased by 97,000. This positive growth was due in great part due to a rapidly-growing video game industry.
The resulting public/private partnerships encouraged growth in these sectors by supplying a home-grown pool of talent and development-friendly policies. It was initiatives such as these that led to market stimulation and support for creative businesses like world-famous performing arts venue Cirque du Soleil. The creative sector now accounts for 30% of the region's jobs. All service sectors are growing at 34%.
Like Montreal, our local, state, and federal governments should be crafting policies and encouraging public/private partnerships when major industry segments start to decline in certain areas. Such proactive measures could have stalled and even offset the damage inflicted on Michigan as a result of the auto industry collapse. I applaud the Seattle City Council Bill 116574 for raising the minimum Business & Occupation tax threshold for businesses from $50,000 to $100,000. It will only serve to stimulate small business growth and development in these tough times as manufacturing jobs decline and major corporations implemented hiring freezes and layoffs and cut back on outsourcing to local manufacturing and other vendors.
Our own under developed industries with high growth potential will be able to keep a bit more cash in their businesses for creating jobs, marketing their services, and adding much needed capital resources to their fledgling organizations. More actions like these are needed to keep our communities focused on rebuilding a job-growing economy. Just because some jobs move south, north, east, or west doesn't mean that all is lost. If we look around a bit, we might find, like Montreal did, that we have thriving industries already blossoming in our economic gardens. We just have to tend to them and encourage them to grow.
What is your region doing to support business and create jobs? I want to hear from you!
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