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Laura Keil

A century ago, “industry” was probably solely considered manufacturing. Today, the service industry has overshadowed manufacturing as the biggest driver of our economy.

Now we are entering a new period, one defined by the ability to render services to anyone living anywhere. If you’ve bought or sold something using the Internet, you know how this works.

Now, let’s consider the strange force this has on rural communities. Rural, by definition, suggests an element of remoteness and smaller population. As a result, there are fewer people to provide services to, thus fewer businesses. But let’s go back to that web-based commerce. There is a new group of people many call “Lone Eagles” who make excellent coin from selling services online. Many make their homes in the Valley already. These are people who make 85 per cent of their income from outside the community they reside. They are exporting intellect and bringing in capital.

Lone Eagles tend to be formally educated and work in specialized fields like software development. But as more people connect to the web to do business, more and more people will be able to disconnect work from home in a way we’ve never seen before in history.

This will bring a new diversity to rural places.

Long Eagles were one of the priorities for economic development noted by the Robson-Canoe Valleys Economic Opportunities Plan commissioned by the regional district several years ago.

In my view, more important than attracting tourists is attracting residents to our Valley. We need marketing toward this group of mobile professionals who are looking for a relaxed rural lifestyle. I hope to see this incorporated into the Regional District’s Robson Valley Region promotional campaign as it unfolds.

We also need to ensure that reliable and fast Internet receives the same priority as reliable power. Those connections are the tools we once saw in a factory, that are now at a desk.

By Laura Keil