There is no doubt that Prince Edward County’s economy is experiencing a Rural Renaissance. Somewhat economically sleepy for thirty or so year’s something interesting started to happen in the 1980’s. Artists started to find and discover the place. In some cases they could buy a home with mortgage payments of $200 or so a month. They could ply their trade and make a living.
In some way’s Prince Edward County is a rural version of Toronto’s Queen Street West or New York’s SoHo, where artist’s discover low rent places add life and vibrancy and then the world catches up and adds to the economic vitality of that area. Usually the downside to this is gentrification, are a higher cost of living (housing specifically) and social tension. Prince Edward County for better or worse has not escaped this cycle.
I think communities can prepare themselves for the pressures of gentrification by anticipating them, deciding to be proactive and invest in establishing zones and or pro-active housing policies and learning from groups like Artscape who provide affordable housing options for creatives who often create the wealth that puts pressure on them.
The up side is the revival of a 200 year old community with fabulous inherent loyalist culture, a new and vibrant arts and culture scene with lots of activity, galleries, studios, exhibits, live music, theatre, etc… When you combine activities like Maple in the County with game changing economic shifts like a new wine region and then you add art and culture to the mix you get magic! In fact what you get is a Rural Renaissance. We see this happening in many communities and I truly believe that more rural communities can capitalize on these emerging economic opportunities presenting themselves.
This is what drives our Quality of Place which is our competitive advantage and in turn attracts Creative Class
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