“Independent locally-owned businesses recirculate a far greater percentage of revenue locally compared to locally-owned franchises. In other words, going local creates more local wealth and jobs.” – The Multiplier Effect of Local Independent Businesses
Believe it or not, the Toco region was once vibrant and self-sustaining. Almost a century ago, Toco was the epicenter of commerce for the northeast coast. There were many small businesses and essential traders such as shoemakers, butchers, and many, many tailors. Central Toco was home to the bus depot and government workers were paid right there at the warden’s office. Money circulated in the community.
After reading the novel “Toco,” by Vivian Jack, (a recommended must-read) I saw just how much our community has regressed in the last 90 years. Set in the 1930s, the novel paints a vivid picture of life in Toco before things fell apart.
I’ve heard my father, and a few others from his generation and older, suggest that when the government workers were stopped being paid in Toco, that was the “beginning of the end” for the region. When people began to go directly to Sangre Grande to cash their paycheques, pension cheques, etc that is where the money that once circulated in the Toco region remained. People began shopping and conducting most of their business in Sangre Grande and the small businesses in Toco began to suffer. Now, years later, we are yet to recover from our economic downturn.
One of the primary reasons for launching The Toco Times is to highlight the resilience and achievements of our people. We still have the potential and resources to develop our own businesses, create our own jobs, and become a self-sustaining region through agriculture and tourism, our most prized resources. We are more educated, just as creative, and have more access to information and technology than our ancestors in the 1930s. Why are we letting them put us to shame?
This is why our social responsibility at The Toco Times is to help our community regain its independence with this platform by providing information to facilitate social, economic, and educational development. But of course, we cannot do it without the support of the community. This is an endeavor for the people, by the people and I for one can’t wait to see how we, as a people will rise to the occasion.