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Clever startups are offering hope for rural communities

We’re calling the initiative “Made Right Here”.

Local boosting is what we do and from day one we have taken pains on these pages to profile local small businesses, particularly family-owned.

Because the dire predictions we’ve been hearing for so long about our “demographic time bomb” and moribund rural communities are actually starting to manifest, more recently we’ve begun to showcase examples of innovative small business startups in mostly rural areas.

We seem to suddenly have a plethora of interesting, smart people determined to make new ideas work in order that they and their families might enjoy our enviable quality of life here.

We’re calling the initiative “Made Right Here.” Our purpose is to demonstrate that there is hope, lots of it! It launches in this issue and we’ll grow it in this issue every year.

Commonly, it’s a matter of cleverly taking a traditional local activity to a new level—because the Internet has revolutionized everything.

For instance, you’ll read inside about Abbyshot Clothiers which accurately makes clothing based on science fiction and fantasy movies, video games and TV shows and exports them to more than 50 countries around the globe—headquartered in Mount Pearl, NL.

You’ll read about Larch Wood Canada, makers of coveted and expensive handcrafted, heirloom kitchen cutting boards revered by foodies and sold worldwide—from a tiny community on Cape Breton Island. It’s a whole new take on an old-fashioned woodworking shop.

Barnyard Organics in PEI is operated by a young family with long farming roots, but the product is not potatoes; rather, a whole variety of products aimed squarely at the burgeoning market for (genuinely) organic food.

And we’ve also taken an inside look at the explosive growth in craft breweries and distilleries. Following on the heels of the region’s wine industry, craft beers and liquors are being produced all over the place, including many rural locales. They can barely keep up with demand. Nobody saw that coming.

Note that these are all clean industries. Former one-horse towns could conceivably attract modern entrepreneurs and a diversified economic base. It doesn’t take a whole lot to invigorate a community of 1,500 or so.

Now if we could just see progress on high-speed Internet service in rural areas…

Then we’d really have something to sell. A welcoming and safe place to raise your kids with no rush hour traffic, parking issues or high rents—places where you can operate your business just as efficiently as in any major centre—and go home for lunch.

~ Linda & Jim Gourlay
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