A considerable portion of our spending, estimated at two-thirds of expenditures by year-round residents, is off-Island, meaning these funds are not available to support local businesses and jobs. We import almost all our food, energy, and manufactured goods.
We have a visitor-based economy, with relatively little diversity. Almost all activity is directly or indirectly related to servicing seasonal residents and visitors through shops and restaurants, real estate, construction, and landscaping. Many of these are service jobs at the low end of the pay spectrum, with wages somewhat better than off-Island (although this is often offset by the high cost of living). For the Vineyard, being so dependent on one cluster of industries means our economy is less resilient to economic ups and downs. The fact that this cluster is so seasonal makes it difficult for our year-round businesses to remain viable. It is important to support efforts that can help diversify our economy such as arts, culture, and the creative economy.
The Island Plan proposed the goal of transitioning to a more diverse and balanced year-round economy that enables those who grow up here to stay or return, helps year-round residents lead productive lives, and fortifies the seasonal aspects of the economy. It suggested that the main thrust of our effort be to strengthen and balance the economy, to support local ownership, to replace imports by exports, especially of such essentials as food and energy, and to increase year-round jobs with living wages.
Economic Information: Economic data collection and analysis are essential tools for laying the foundation from which cities and towns can compete and prosper in the future. The MVC serves as a repository for collecting and conducting data analysis including demographic, economic, housing, and transportation information from various federal, state, and local resources.
Business Workshops: The MVC hosts Business Workshops in conjunction with the South Eastern Economic Development Corporation (SEED).
Arts Martha's Vineyard: The MVC worked with the Martha's Vineyard Donors’ Collaborative to facilitate and support the creation of an arts and culture collaborative has been established. It is working to promote the Island as a cultural destination and to foster development of cultural activities. A priority has been creating “Fall for the Arts” and “Spring for the Arts”, efforts to expand visitation in the shoulder season.
- Leakage Analysis of the Martha's Vineyard Economy: This 2007 study by Michael H. Shuman & Doug Hoffer of the Training & Development Corporation looked at the leakage of dollars – that is, goods and services being imported that could be produced locally – to identify the most promising markets for new or expanded local businesses, and the best private initiatives and public policies to support this kind of economic development.
- Fostering Arts and Culture on Martha’s Vineyard: This 2012 report was prepared by the MVC in collaboration with Arts Martha's Vineyard. It reports on the status and needs of the arts and culture community on Martha's Vineyard. It also outlines a strategy and priority initiatives for strengthening Martha’s Vineyard’s arts and culture, and the cultural economy, in the future.
- Arts Martha's Vineyard: The Martha's Vineyard Arts and Culture Collaborative.