For 25 years Swift Current, Saskatchewan stopped growing - in industry, population, and imagination. Now it has become a showcase for Business Retention and Expansion (BR&E), the strategy that calls upon the local private sector to spearhead community renewal. In answer to that call, Swift Current's business owners set in motion a community-wide strategy in collaboration with the public and social service sectors.
"What people needed to learn was that conventional ideas of business development were no solution to the problem. If we kept doing what we had been doing we would keep getting what we had been getting: an underdeveloped wealth-generating sector, growing dependency on outside investors, and a population tilting into decline."
"Our focus had to move from attracting investors to building the businesses in our own backyard. And who should spearhead such an approach but the people who know those businesses best - local business owners? Some might worry that this would lead to more of the same narrow, unimaginative outlook on local development that we had seen in the past. But that has not been the case. Viewing one another as teammates rather than opponents, business owners, bureaucrats, and other groups and organizations managed to agree on how the community must grow and to co-ordinate their actions to that end. A true community movement has taken shape around local revitalization."