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Change is coming to George, and we better get ready

Everywhere one looks there is signs of change. Construction is happening near the Garden Route Mall, Chinese shops are popping up everywhere, “coming soon” bus stop signs are scattered all over the landscape, and the papers are full of stories of new investors entering the region.

I see many comments in the papers and on social media channels of people objecting to proposed developments, citing concerns that the ‘garden’ must not be lost from the garden route.

Often these complaints are self-serving, taking the stance of “fine, but not on my back yard”. People complaining about bus stops being too close to their homes don’t bother to think of all those without cars, whom are at the mercy of taxi operators, or people that simply have no alternative but to walk everywhere.

Like it or not, George is changing, and we can either stand by and complain or we can help steer the change. Now what does this all have to do with business?

Well, then thing is, we can watch George and the surrounding area undergo a transformation driven by external influences; mostly large corporates that make profits and export these out of the region; or we can be part of the process.  If we take charge and help lead the progress we will be able to grow the local economy and re-invest profits back into the area.

One think we dearly lack in this region is a plan. A concise economic vision that defines not just where we need to head to, but also how to get there. We have innovative thinkers around, so surely we can make a plan.

So far the problem is that everyone has his or her own idea, which mostly boils down to self-enrichment. We need to think bigger, and we need to work together.

Other economic regions in South Africa are working hard to attract investment and grown their own economy. Just think Coega, West Coast corridor, etc. What are we doing? Doing nothing is the same as moving backwards. Just look at what doing nothing has done to our local tourism industry.

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