The Possibility of an Island
Building proper economic underpinnings to make communities possible: learnings from Fish, Art and Tourism. A journey from the specific to the universal through the experiece of asset based community economic development on Fogo Island.
Zita Cobb is an eighth-generation Fogo Islander, Founder and CEO of Shorefast, and Innkeeper of Fogo Island Inn. A registered Canadian charity, Shorefast uses business-minded means to help secure economic and cultural resilience for Fogo Island, Newfoundland: a centuries-old settler fishing community off Newfoundland’s northeast coast. Zita graduated high school on Fogo Island before leaving home to study business in Ottawa. Following a successful career in high-tech, Zita returned to Fogo Island to help grow another leg on the Island’s economy to complement its fishery.
Shorefast’s notable achievements include creating a holistic set of charitable initiatives, including the world-class Fogo Island Arts artist-in-residence program (fogoislandarts.ca), and three social businesses: the award-winning Fogo Island Inn, the Woodshop on Fogo Island, and Fogo Island Fish. Shorefast pioneered economic nutrition labelling for its social businesses, to transparently demonstrate “where the money goes.” All operating surpluses are reinvested in community development. Shorefast’s model is both unwaveringly specific and universally applicable, holding relevance for communities worldwide.
Zita has been a Member of the Order of Canada since 2016 and was a 2020 inductee to Canada’s Business Hall of Fame. She holds honorary doctorates from McGill University, Memorial University of Newfoundland, the University of Ottawa, and Carleton University. An active CEO, she commits her full time and energy to Shorefast’s work on Fogo Island.