Less than six months after the closure of the Picadilly potash mine, the town of Sussex is moving forward.
More than 400 people were put out of work when the mine closed. Since then there have been several job fairs and most recently community leaders got together with the aim of making the town even better.
“First of all Sussex was never just a mining town,” Blair Hyslop owner of Mrs. Dunster’s said.
Hyslop is one of the facilitators in the ongoing effort to develop a strategic plan focusing on the town’s priorities going forward. He says that means building on its strengths.
READ MORE: PotashCorp mine closure has Sussex residents fearing worst about economy
“We’re not trying to reinvent the community as something new,” Hyslop said. “What we’re trying to do is take advantage of what we already have in terms of people and resources.”
A series of community meetings have already been held and several more focused sessions are coming up next month.
Ivan Graham is President of the Sussex and District Chamber of Commerce. He says the mine’s importance can’t be downplayed but it’s time to move on.
“We have a choice,” Graham said. “Either to be a victim of our circumstances or to take action and try to provide positive solutions to the difficulties that we’re in.”
One of the challenges is getting people mobilized and involved in the process.
“There’s a lot of people walking around, saying ‘Boy this town has a lot more potential than is being realized’ and how to sort of take advantage of that potential and how do we move forward?” Hyslop said. “So for those people it’s about getting them out of that frame of mind and getting to ‘here’s how.’”
“We have some wonderful entrepreneurs, people who have been very successful in our area and we want to help them be more successful and in the same way attract other businesses to the area,” Graham said.
Part of the process is the hiring of a business development officer for the region for a one year term. It’s hoped that the strategic plan will be finalized when this person assumes their position.