Disaster Can Lead To Positive Economic Change
Disaster Fallout Can Lead To Positive Economic Change
Disasters like foot and mouth disease in Britain can act as a catalyst for accelerated economic change, according to an international specialist in regional development.
Scottish Enterprise education manager Gordon McVie is speaking at this week’s Regional Development Conference in Rotorua, promoted and organised by the Ministry of Economic Development. Scottish Enterprise specialises in educating communities about enterprise opportunities and Gordon McVie was last year appointed by British Prime Minister Tony Blair to lead the Scottish arm of a UK campaign to promote youth enterprise.
Gordon McVie says it is inevitable that disasters such as the foot and mouth epidemic that hit Britain this year will have an economic impact. However, disasters also act to accelerate economic change, and managed correctly, the long term impact on the economy can be positive.
“A prime example this year is the devastating impact of foot and mouth disease on Dumfries and Galloway, a Scottish region with a local economy heavily reliant on agriculture. The economic impact was compounded by the region’s reliance on livestock-related business – 23 percent of the region’s GDP compared to 3 percent for the rest of Scotland.
“Foot and mouth has been an economic disaster for this region but it can also provide opportunities if the right support is in place. We’ve got a recovery plan in place to put the economy of this area back on track in the shortest possible timeframe. We’re using this disaster as a basis for achieving accelerated economic change.”
Gordon McVie has also found that high quality advice, information and support can also pay far greater dividends than compensation payouts. “In this case the only people getting compensation are the farmers – you don’t compensate the people further down the supply chain whose businesses are also going down the tubes.
“We’ve gone in and worked with these businesses to help them diversify and seek new opportunities. If you were a haulage contractor who only transported sheep, then you’ve got a structural weakness in your business because post-foot and mouth we’re no longer moving sheep. You need to look for new avenues of business.
“Foot and mouth is a disaster but it has also led to significant creativity. It doesn’t have to be a blight on our economic lives for ever.”