Estevan – As concern for Estevan’s economic future grows, so to does the efforts of the community to be a part of the solution.
Each session in the community concerned about that future seems to draw strong crowds. On Mar. 4 the Estevan Chamber of Commerce again filled most of the seats at its monthly coffee talk at the Days Inn, where the subject for discussion was change. About 45 people took part.
It was a follow up to a recent presentation by Doug Griffiths, who wrote a book called 13 Ways to Kill Your Community. On Feb. 12 he made a presentation on that theme in Estevan.
Chamber executive director Jackie Wall led the discussion, which started off by discussing some of the points Griffiths had raised. One person recalled how Griffiths spoke of not having a fax number, because of where he lived. Where was that? The 21st century!
Economic development co-ordinator Dwight Bramble noted that youth today have more technology in their hand than what was used to launch the spaced shuttle.
Another person pointed to an example of a community which built out low-cost daycare as a growth measure.
Brad Pierson said it was important to embrace competition. He spoke of a local company targeting North Dakotans to offer them automobile service. Competition is good, he noted, pointing out that the new coffee shop and bakery will likely help others in town, as opposed to hurt them.
One man said he originally came to Estevan five years ago with the intention of staying two years. He’s been offered the chance to relocate, twice, and decided to stay. His wife opened a dance school, and it’s been busy.
Cory Casemore said, “We need more input,” adding that even harebrained ideas would do. “Collaboration is key,” he said.
Wall noted, “We have a lot of pessimistic people who are unhappy,” with regards to the mood of the community.
She pointed out that it appears there will be several vacancies on city council, and people are needed to run. “It’s important to have good leadership,” she said.
Deanna Tarnes noted that “People don’t know what’s going on. People are scared.”
She pointed out that a number of people tend to be negative in their comments.
Paul Carroll, mayor of Bienfait, noted choice of words is important, and it’s important to address negative comments up front. He gave an example of a restaurant that moved quickly to address negative comments online about a meal a person had been served.
Bramble said, “We’re talking about change. Sometimes you have to say it like you have to say it.”
There was some discussion about retail space near housing, and training opportunities that could be offered by Southeast College’s Estevan campus.
Susan Letsche pointed out the importance of “soft skill” training, working through problems and doing research. “Change is all about positive communication and working through resistors,” she said.
Mayor Roy Ludwig made the final statement with a flourish, saying about change, “We have to embrace it. We are not the rocks over which the river flows, we are the river itself.”