March 6, 2014 | Volume 44, Number 9

For economy, focus on town's draws

Haines is a special place. According to the Haines Comprehensive Plan, “The top two reasons people like living here are the outdoors and natural beauty, and the small-town atmosphere and community. This was true regardless of age, length of residency, where in Haines they live, income or employment status.”  Other reasons mentioned in a community-wide survey include clear air and water, arts and cultural activities, good schools and subsistence. The plan states that high school students like living in Haines for many of the same reasons as adults, including beautiful surroundings, nature, mountains, ocean, sun, fresh air, snow, forests, and easy to get around, no traffic, not many people.

It is to the benefit of economic development in Haines to focus on why people live here, buy homes and operate small businesses here. Why do some folks who live in one of the best places on the planet feel it necessary to promote the kind of economic development that diminishes the peaceful, quiet, small-town atmosphere we enjoy and its natural assets for “economic development”? Why does a panel on economic development limit its ideas to selected “presenters”? How many folks in Haines are actually represented by the Chamber of Commerce, big mining interests, and interests that are noisy and diminish the quality of life for others?

The best scenario for sustainable future economic development in Haines is to focus on what the people who live here actually value about this place and work to preserve those assets.

Kathleen Menke