ARLENE WHITE/Cross-Border News
A common mistake that we human beings regularly make is not being able to see the forest for the trees – missing the big picture because we are so focused on the small details we are involved in that we take the progress we are making or the assets that we have for granted because we are too close to actually see them for the value they provide.
Niagara is like this in many ways – so focused on old definitions, geography and boundaries that were used to describe us, the things that other communities are doing, or that we feel aren’t being done or done well in our region, that we totally miss the great things that are happening, and the opportunities right in front of us.
And there are tremendous opportunities all around us – if we choose to break down old barriers to thinking and how we do things, and start to redefine a “greater” Niagara region that encompasses and promotes the best of what this new Niagara can offer.
What if someone told you that this region has set continental and international precedents and standards, and is recognized at these levels for our Water and Hydro-Electric Management, Emergency Response Services, and Bio-Medical Developments?
That we are the home to more than 20 public and private post-secondary education institutions offering full-time and part-time courses across a full spectrum of disciplines from humanities to engineering, architecture, medicine and technology that draw international students from countries around the world and provide local graduates with access to global opportunities?
That this region is recognized for it’s advanced research and deliver of health care in the fields of cancer, neurosurgery, cardiology, gastroenterology, pulmonary, nuclear medicine, ophthalmology, pediatrics, radiology and diagnostic services?
That we have the busiest international crossing along the northern border that directly impacts the economies of both our countries and jurisdictions as far away as California and British Columbia?
That we are home to National league hockey and football, and recognized internationally for sport management training, annual competitions and unique venues for things like flat-water sports and marathons?
That the key determinants for American and Canadian independence from European control, our national identities, and agreement over how we would share the North American continent were rooted in specific circumstances preceding, throughout and following the War of 1812?
That the revitalization efforts and successes taking place in many of our old downtowns and historic neighborhoods are being noted and emulated in other parts of North America?
That there is a broad array of financial, human, operational and training resources available to assist new entrepreneurs with their start-ups, as well as to help small and mid-size businesses to grow their local and export markets?
That people who visit our region from other parts of the globe constantly comment on how lucky we are to live where we do and be able to share the rich resources we have between two young countries?
These are the messages that were shared with more than 200 delegates to the 2011 Binational Summit just over two weeks ago, and that we need to share with a broader audience of Niagara businesses, residents and politicians in order to fully capitalize on our unique positioning and ability to grow and prosper.
Over the next few weeks, I will be telling you about the innovators who are leading these efforts in true regional growth, and the successes they have achieved thanks to their “no border” attitudes to the work they do.
It’s time for some new definitions for Niagara if we are serious about success over the next decade. Great debates are now underway over future economic development and business organizations that will lead our region forward – without including the binational importance and links this region has, the conversation is hollow and the outcomes will continue to miss the greater target we should all be aiming for.
More great “Big Niagara” thinking. Here’s to working together to find an integrated identity for Niagara one blog post at a time!
Categories: Community Development