Local Content and Mobile Labour: The Role of Senior Governments in Capturing Benefits for Local Communities

Sean Markey, Laura Ryser, Greg Halseth


Rural resource-based regions are increasingly accommodating large mobile workforces to support renewed industrial investments. As large-scale resource development projects are mobilized, however, industries’ use of mobile work camps and outsourcing with established global supply chain networks may exclude rural
businesses and communities from associated economic benefits, particularly in the absence of local content policies. To date, however, research has largely focused on supply chain opportunities pertaining to the construction or operations of resource development assets, with limited consideration of the issues that must be considered in order for local businesses to capture benefits from mobile workforces. Drawing upon interviews with businesses in Fort St. John, British Columbia, Canada, we use
issues unfolding in the new institutionalism discourse to explore the roles of senior governments in strengthening local benefits related to mobile workforces, as well as some of the challenges that existing policy roles and debates present to better position rural businesses in these resource-based regions. Our findings suggest that underdeveloped and under-resourced senior government policies, regulations, and processes are entrenching the role of rural regions as resource banks instead of creating a competitive playing field for rural businesses to capture, and locally
anchor, economic benefits.

Keywords: local content, rural businesses, mobile workforce

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The Journal of Rural and Community Development is supported by SSHRC.