“The region has its own ‘essence’ which can be grasped in full only by tools, hypotheses, models and data processing techniques specifically designed for regional analysis.” Walter Isard (1956) Location and space-economy
On October 17 and 18th, the North East (PEI) Community Alliance (NECA) and PEI Government invited Alvin Simms to Souris and Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island (PEI), to give several talks on regional economic development. Over thirty members from communities in the area attended this discussion, in which Dr. Simms demonstrated how local labour markets, journey to work patterns, and regional analytics can be used as the starting point for regional policy development, as opposed to the geopolitical boundaries that are more traditionally employed.
Dr. Simms explained how integrating this information with local industry supply chains helps to define “local economies” while also identifying provincial and national dependencies and linkages for inputs to local industries. From this, Dr. Simms and his collaborators create models that can be used to identify gaps, overlaps, opportunities, and comparative advantages associated with the region and the geographical aspects of the model are useful for identifying potential locations for industries. Coupled with a regional analytical inventory related to existing demographics, infrastructure, occupations, industries, and other socio-economic characteristics, the outputs from these models are used to provide evidence based strategies for regional development.
These models come out of Dr. Simms’ current research, done in collaboration with Dr. David Freshwater (University of Kentucky; adjunct professor at Memorial), research assistant and MUN Geography alumnus Jamie Ward (M.Sc., Geography), and the Harris Centre. They are building new models for regional development that are based on “functional economic region” dependencies and linkages. These presentations, which were sponsored by PEI Rural Development, were an opportunity for Dr. Simms to discuss this model and its potential applications and outcomes with members of one of the Functional Economic Regions (North Eastern PEI) identified in his research. Importantly, this project takes complex data and converts it to useable information/knowledge such that “regional development” organizations such as the NECA can develop plans knowing the strengths and weaknesses of their region as well as identifying opportunities for economic development.
While in PEI, Dr. Simms also met with the provincial government and the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency to discuss this ongoing project.