By Fred Morley
Some cities are just lucky. They find themselves in the middle of a resource boom like Calgary and St. Johns. They find themselves at a crossroads or a gateway like Toronto or Vancouver or they find a sugar daddy…Ottawa comes to mind.
Some of us have to make our own luck. Successful economic development requires five things, vision, optimism, a passion for change, innovation and leadership.
Today let me talk about the importance of optimism. Economic development at its heart is about optimism….optimism about your business, your community and your organization. Positive attitude fuels success. Bill King at Area Development Magazine thinks “It’s impossible to succeed at economic development and be a pessimist.”
Economic development is about having that gut conviction that you can change the future, and maybe the world. It’s about a belief that prosperity is not just about the accident of location and proximity to markets, or what kind of carbon or metal is under the ground in your community. It’s about people and organizations that believe that their effort and personal commitment can remake their future and set a new path. It’s why people invest in organizations like the Partnership. Every investor is an optimist.
Being an eternal optimist is not easy, but you know what it’s not that hard either. Optimism is not about blind faith or a cheery attitude as some would have it. It’s about seeing a path forward when others can’t see past the darkness. It’s about seeing obstacles as challenges to go around, not stop signs. Optimism is where economic developers get their energy and their drive. Pessimism is our kryptonite. It will kill a good community and a good organization.
Fred is the Executive Vice President and Chief Economist at Greater Halifax Partnership.