The Golden Girls helping to attract newcomers

The Miramichi New Conversations tour stop last night was very well attended.  I counted over a hundred folks in the room.  There was a lot of good discussion and testimonials and some frank, straight-talk express stuff about the challenges.

After my talk I notice a table of four ladies all in their 70s and possibly early 80s (although they would never tell) and I was quite curious as to why they were in the room.  It turns out Carolyn, Elaine, Colleen and Maureen are all big advocates of immigration and have been working with their local church to attract immigrants to their community.

I had a heartfelt and uplifting conversation with the Golden Girls and came away thinking that if we could put these folks in front of prospective newcomers our changes of successful recruitment and retention would go up markedly.

Essentially we want newcomers to become Miramichiers.  Sure they will put their own twist on what it means to be from the ‘Chi.  They may never master the local dialect – although there were a few immigrants in the room that could slip into the subtle but distinct way of speaking.  But they can and will become Miramichiers.  I met several immigrants last night that had been in the ‘Chi for 20 years or more.

I think people – at least last night – get it.  They want the Miramichi to thrive.  Sure they have questions but that is the reason why the New Conversations tour was developed.

Carolyn, Elaine, Colleen and Maureen have not real reason to actively support immigration.  They have families, hobbies and,  it seems, a good life.  Why bother?  Because they care about more than just themselves and they enjoy working to help their community.

Bring it on.

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Leadership: Perspiration versus inspiration

I’m not exactly Dave Veale, but I do understand the importance of leadership to successful organizations.   As I see it there are leaders who are the hardest working people you will ever meet.  They are also usually smart.  They have a sense of strategy. They know all the files back and forth.  They can quote Nietzsche and Sun Tzu. But, unfortunately, many of them can’t inspire people.

I was thinking about this last night at the NB Multicultural Council event in Moncton.  There is almost no doubt in my mind that New Brunswick will need to attract substantial new migrants over the next decade just to ensure existing employers have enough workers and many more if we actually want to grow the labour force and economy.

But hard working leaders on this issue will not be enough. We need inspirational leaders to get people excited about the potential and how the local population can mobilize at the  community level to make it successful.

It can be done, of course.  Consider the following four communities: Brooks and Banff in Alberta, Lloydminster in Saskatchewan and Whistler in BC.  These communities have the distinction of having among the fastest growing immigrant populations (adjusted for population size) in Canada even though they are tiny and rural (these numbers excluding temporary foreign workers).

Can you imagine?  This would be like Campbellton attracting 2,220 immigrants in the next five years or Miramichi attracting 5,000.

I want to be clear about the data here.  In Brooks, 16% of everyone is a new immigrant,13% in Lloydminster, etc.  In Toronto the rate was 7%, Vancouver less than 6%.

Why would these communities attract so many immigrants?  Very simple.  To protect their economies.  Look at the following chart.  I have highlighted the only numbers that matter in red.  Lloydminster has over 9 times as many people working in mining compared the rest of the country, Brooks 6 times.  Look at Whistler and Banff – the two largest tourism economies in Canada.  That’s it folks.  They are protecting their industrial drivers.  By the way, we don’t have good data on this but anecdotally the immigrants being attracted into mining and oil and gas communities are not working in mining they are mostly in the service industries that support mining.  In other words, they are bringing in immigrants to work the jobs in demand to support their strategically important industries.

Charlotte County recently issued a report warning of the significant labour market shortages facing the tourism industry in that region of New Brunswick.  To paraphrase Jerry Seinfeld’s exhortation to Elaine “Look to the cookie!”, I say look to Banff.

Our elected leaders need to step up on this issue.  This is where inspiration comes in.

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Let’s have a fact-based conversation about property taxes

It would be kind of cool if we could use facts when debating public policy options in New Brunswick.

I’m not a big fan of property taxes.  I pay something like $4,500 a year on my house and it is harder for me to connect that cost to the services I receive.  The City of Moncton in recent years starting publishing a “where your tax dollars go” document that actually helped me make that connection.

But all the talk about how NBers are overtaxed in this area is hard to square with reality.  I just saw Kris Austin say the double tax on property was a main reason why investment is being held back in this province.

As someone who studies – in great detail – what is holding back investment in New Brunswick, I can tell you that this is not a main reason why investment is being held back in this province.

First for the facts.  KPMG looks at property taxes for businesses in 150+ global cities and publishes them on a per square foot basis. I have studied this data backwards and forwards and I can tell you that New Brunswick is not the lowest but neither is it anywhere the highest.  This graph gives you some examples.

Further, property taxes are on average 1% of total operating costs for the average business in the KPMG study.  Wages, the cost of real estate, even energy costs are much higher for the average business.

Now, what about the claim that the government is charging way too much in property tax?  I have heard this from people that move here from Calgary or Toronto expecting their property tax bills to go way down.   As shown below, New Brunswickers in all five income quintiles pay a lower share of their income to property taxes than Canadians as a whole.  What people conflate is property tax ‘rates’ versus property taxes ‘paid’.  Rates are higher, assessments are lower and so in the end people on average pay a little less – not a lot less – of their income to property taxes.  Remember the average household income in New Brunswick is 19% below the Canadian average so in real dollar terms, the average household pays in New Brunswick pays 29% less.  For those of you keeners out there this is partially a rural/urban issue.  The bottom line is that if you own a house Fredericton or Moncton or Bathurst you are likely not paying any more for property taxes than you would pay – on average- anywhere else in Canada.

There is one more data point that should put your mind at ease about your government gouging you with property taxes.  If you look at how much revenue government generates from property taxes – all classes – business, household, etc. on a per capita basis it is similar to the rest of Canada.  I show Saskatchewan in the chart below because I can’t find my province  by province comparison but again, NB is pretty well average.

Now, of course, you say I have avoided the biggest point – the double taxation on rental properties and on second homes/cottages.  That is what is getting Kris Austin, et. al. all in a tizzy.

Governments make policy decisions.  They ‘double’ tax rental properties which, in theory, is more of an incentive to encourage people to own homes.  In practice, apartment rental rates in New Brunswick are competitive and much lower than larger urban centres because again the impact of property taxes on the overall monthly rental cost is fairly low.  But it is clear that if government wanted to encourage more renting of apartments, houses, etc. getting rid of the double tax would help.  I’m just not sure they want that.

As for the cottage owners?  I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.

Three bottom lines:

There is no evidence that property taxes in New Brunswick are a major barrier to business investment.  They can be annoying to small business owners who – like my point above – don’t see what they are paying for.

Landlords and cottage owners also tend to be donors to political parties and can get the ear of politicians and potential politicians. However, when successive governments have looked at this – even with the pressure from landlords and cottage owners – they have not changed the system – because, one assumes – they are loathe to raise other taxes to compensate.  If you cut revenue from property taxes by 30% you would have to raise HST by another one percentage point.  What government will do that?

Finally, I am certainly not opposed to property tax reform.  Unfortunately much of the issue is related to the imbalance between urban and rural property taxes paid (yes, even adjusted for services provided) and that is politically toxic – particularly for Kris Austin’s base of support.

Property taxes, like all taxes, should be set not just as a source of revenue but based on how they impact the competitiveness of the province to attract industry and to attract and retain people.  It’s pretty well known that people accept certain taxes more than others.  Sales taxes seem to be the most accepted and property taxes seem to be the least loved.

But when we discuss these issues let’s do so with facts.

 

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Putting down roots in a transient world

resirgpI have been thinking a lot lately about how we encourage people to put down roots in a specific geography even as societies are becoming more open.  One way is to encourage a kind of Trumpian nativism where people long for a golden age in the past when things were so much better and harmonious.    The outcome of that is to encourage stronger borders, internalizing trade and investment and limited the flow of people.

I’m not sure going backwards is the way to go.

I would prefer to come up with a new regime where people are deeply connected to the place they live even as they are firmly positioned in a global economy and populace.

When I first moved to Moncton 20 years ago I checked out Resurgo Volumes 1&2 from the library and read them cover to cover.  Resurgo was written as a summary of the region’s history going back 200 years.  It’s not as easy read as it was written basically as a summary of what went on each year pulled from newspapers and other sources.

But it was fascinating to read.  If you can handle the clunkiness you read all the colour and all about the interesting people in this area (including Oscar Wilde’s visit) going back two centuries.  There are stories about the fist fight between a mayor and a newspaper editor, about the use of Albert County natural gas as an energy source in Moncton, about a politician out surveying in his rubber boots in the muddy Petitcodiac right before an election to make it seem like if he was elected we would get a new bridge.  The first ‘bilingual’ men’s clothing store 50 years before Len Jones.

I’d like to find a way to get all high schoolers in the Moncton region to read Resurgo or maybe read chunks of it and report back on the highlights to their classmates.  I don’t know.  All I know is that my kids know more about the founding of the United States than their own province or city.

Whether it is our young people or new immigrants, we need to be more intentional about this issue of putting down roots.

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The curious economic development example of Dorchester, NB

My go to book when I want a snapshot of what went on in New Brunswick in a specific year or during a particular administration is Richard Wilbur’s New Brunswick: An Annual Review, 1960-2006.  Unfortunately it only covers the period between 1960 and 2006.  It would be great to have a version going back to the early 20th Century and a version keeping relatively fresh.

For those who think about the province’s economy, Wilbur covers most major economic issues throughout the period starting with a flurry of projects in 1960-61 including legislation to expand the Saint John Shipbuilding and Drydock Company and the establishment of the Rothesay Paper Corporation.  Premier Robichaud went to Europe to hustle new business.  Of course the Chignecto Canal never really got off the ground and despite “a tremendous dry campaign spearheaded by the Baptists and endorsed by the Canadian Temperance Federation” the government agreed to allow “liquor [to] be sold
by the glass in taverns, hotels, hunting camps, and railway trains”.  Wilbur’s book is chock full of these little anecdotes.  You might learn a little about your province.

I have been thinking lately about the little hamlet of Dorchester, New Brunswick a short drive from Moncton. I have a friend who is looking at potential economic development opportunities in the village.  In Wilbur’s review, his comments on Dorchester go from positive to neutral to downright negative.

In 1964, Dorchester first shows up as the site of the Westmorland Chemical Park at Dorchester Cape which was described as “a 100-acre industrial park established by the New Brunswick Development Corporation” to initially house a “$4 million fertilizer plant would be built”.  About 400 men would be employed to produce the fertilizer from Trinidad ammonia.

In 1965, Wilbur indicates government had developed a chemical fertilizer plant and invested in “initial facilities, including a floating dock” but then sold it to a Winnipeg firm.

Just two years alter in 1967, Wilbur cites a Daily Gleaner editorial, by the government’s ‘most persistent critic’ the publisher of the Gleaner, for the “whole confused
story of the indirect liabilities” including the Fundy Chemical plant at Dorchester Cape.

In 1971, Wilbur’s description of the Dorchester economic development efforts has turned sour as he describes it as the “more controversial Liberal venture, the notorious Dorchester Cape industrial park” and says there is only one firm in operation.

By 1974, the vision for Dorchester had completely crumbled.  Wilbur discusses the “vacant buildings of Westmorland Chemical Park, itself a multimillion dollar fiasco begun with much fanfare early in the Robichaud era” and states that James Addison, president of the NB Development Corporation, the Stephen Lund of the time,  announced “the sale of the Westmorland Chemical plant and its large storage tank to an American firm. He thought the new buyers would dismantle it and move the equipment out of the province. He also admitted that the Development Corporation had taken a loss of $8.7 million on the park.”

Other than a person’s hunger strike at the jail, there is no other mention of Dorchester in the almost 50 years’ worth of review.

The Dorchester area over the years had been a site for mining.  It played a role as a ‘port’ for ships coming up the Petitcodiac River.  It could have easily been built out as cottage country for city folk – there are beautiful waterfront locations out there that have never been developed.

dorchester

Dorchester has an interesting history.  An early discussion of that history can be found here (interestingly a Wilbur was the second English family to settle in the area).   You have to subscribe to get the full book.

The recent history of Dorchester confirms my view that the best and most durable economic development is led by local stakeholders.  We can and should attract national and international firms here but in the long run the only people who have a true interest in the area are local people.  Any community in New Brunswick waiting around for the provincial or federal government to swoop in and save the day might be waiting a long time.

Provincial and federal governments have an important role to play but in my experience local leaders – government, business, community need to step up first, cast a vision, and put their own skin in the game.  I’m not naive.  I realize that government has been pivotal in the success of certain communities over time – think about the moving of CN Shops to Moncton in the early 1900s – but for the most part local communities need to take the lead.

A process admittedly complicated in New Brunswick when there are only 11 municipalities with a population of 10,000 or more and only three with 50,000 or more.

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Getting over the blues: The berry edition

We have been talking now for the last three years about the state of the blueberry industry in New Brunswick.  On the one hand it is a great success story of farmers, government and industry coming together – weaving in new technology and innovative farming – to drive substantial new yields and productivity per acre.  As you can see from the chart New Brunswick went from a marketing production of 5,300 tons in 2001 to 41,000 tons in 2016. In fact, New Brunswick overtook Quebec in 2013 and 2015 as the national leader in production (not that anyone actually heard about this).

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But the price paid to farmers plummeted.  From a high of $2,500 per ton (farm gate value) in 2006 to less than $500/ton today.  As you can see from the chart this is not just a New Brunswick problem although we have slipped below both Quebec and Nova Scotia on the price per ton measure.  The reason for this was a massive surplus of frozen blueberries and no identifiable new markets for the product.  There was something like 150 million lbs sitting in freezers waiting to be sold.

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When I got a look at the inner workings of this industry I was surprised.  Almost the entire product in New Brunswick is flash frozen and shipped out wholesale.  There is almost no value added beyond a few farmers’ market level products.  When the price was $2,500/ton giddy up.  At $500/ton, whoopsie.

I have to be careful not to position myself as an expert in blueberry sector development and marketing.  But I did find it strange on a trip last spring through the northeastern US to find blueberries in everything – McDonalds smoothies, Dunkin’ Donuts, blueberry flavoured coffee, there were blueberry donuts at Tim Hortons in the states.  In Maine blueberries are ubiquitous – even little kiosks all over the place selling to tourists.

But, again, when historically the whole product was essentially shipped to wholesalers at a good price – no one really cared.  They care now, I assume.

What to do?  We need new markets.  I would argue product and geographic markets.  What can blueberries be used for – at a margin that makes sense – beyond the current stable of blueberry muffins and mom’s blueberry pie once or twice a year?  Are there nutraceutical uses? Are there whole new categories – imagine a blueberry milkshake sold at every fast food place in Canada?

And, of course, new geographic markets.  The wild blueberries of New Brunswick are considered to have a much more robust flavour and other properties compared to those big grape sized mushy blueberries coming out of the cultivated, hot climates.

China is a bit of the holy grail – for just about everything it seems – but until recently they weren’t interested (tariffs).  I’m told that government/industry efforts have paid off and that seems to be reflected in the numbers.  It’s a small sample size but if you look at the value of frozen fruit exports from Nova Scotia in January 2018 you will see a big spike in the value to China (this is the most granular export category but for NS is it primarily blueberries).  Overall, the value of international exports has doubled.   A good trend indeed.

Of course, my sharp eyed readers will ask why I don’t show the New Brunswick export data.  This is because for some reason likely to do with Oxford and history NB blueberry exports almost exclusively show up as Nova Scotia exports.
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Giddy up.  Wild blueberries are tailor-made for New Brunswick’s climate and soil (parts of the province).  We have a willing cohort of farmers, some impressive research (on product yields not on market development) and a large capacity for frozen storage.  Now we need to put some brain power to how we can ensure this industry is successful and profitable in the long term.

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The Sisson Hindenburg?

A couple of years ago the CBC sent a young reporter to out Stanley to interview folks about the proposed Sisson tungsten/molybdenum mine. I was bracing for the worst when she started her reportage but it turned out that most people she interviewed were either agnostic or even supportive of the mine. One lady remarked there was no one left to work in the mine but hopefully it would bring in young families to live in the area. I was pleasantly surprised.

I read a new story last week on the recent consultations held in the Stanley area and – at least the tone of this article – had me thinking here we go again. Multiple people stated their opposition – one guy said he came unsure and left highly opposed. Another person talked about how they had moved here from Alberta to enjoy the pristine beauty of the area and the beautiful rivers. People want to move here and retire in pristine beauty – and I guess they want someone else to foot the bill for health care.

There are mineral mines all across this country – in Ontario, BC, Quebec – on and on. We have some of the most stringent rules around mining of any country in the world and the minerals in question molybdenum and tungsten are used in many products that are part of our daily lives. In fact, tungsten is used in headlights and molybdenum is an essential component of airbags so if we are to build millions of electric vehicles in the coming years – these minerals will be important in the transition from fossil fuels.

In an alternate universe, environmentalists might actually be supporting this mine: a) because regulations are stronger in Canada; b) the minerals will help aid the global transition away from fossil fuels; and c) it will create much needed economic opportunity in New Brunswick.

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It’s easier to say no these days that to take a nuanced view of anything.  Let’s just focus in on the few times something went wrong with a modern mine.  Who cares about 300 high paying direct jobs and several hundred additional jobs supported around the province?  Who cares about boosting the population in the Stanley area?  #letsjustsaynotoalldevelopment

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Calling all you zombies

At some point during the Lord of the Rings trilogy, I don’t remember exactly, Viggo goes into a dark and dreary forest and finds an army of cranky undead and enlists them to fight against the armies of Mordor.  As I recall it gets a little hairy but eventually the cranky old men come to the aid of the world of men and they all live happily ever after.

There is similar army of policy zombies in New Brunswick.    Their profile is pretty straightforward.   They are mostly men aged late 50s to early 70s.  They were roughly mid-career during the McKenna years.  They worked for government, were journalists or had other careers where they were involved in the development of public policy.  They are mostly quite smart, well read and still follow the news closely.  Many are retired on comfortable government pensions – although I suspect the former journalists not quite so comfortable.

I mention the McKenna years because many of them look back fondly on that period and believe we have gone down hill since then.  A minority, however; are rabid anti-McKenna-ites who believe he actually started the slide – that things were getting better through the Hatfield years (last five years notwithstanding) and McKenna-era style and policy started the slow descent to where we are today.  I would suggest the latter are not nearly as numerous as the former but they exist.

The problem is that now all they do is snipe from the sidelines.  Twitter and other social media give them a broader platform – although not that broad – but they are active and highly critical.  They believe New Brunswick will never change and they have given up hope a long time ago.

From time to time I hear from these guys.  Some of them I used to work with when I started my career in the aforementioned McKenna era.  They think I serve up stale, superficial pablum and get cranky that I even write at all.

I have sympathy for the zombies.  They have watched the provincial economy stagnate in recent years.  They know real GDP growth in the province since McKenna resigned ranks 10th among the provinces.  They know that labour market growth in New Brunswick since 1997 has been worst among the 10 provinces by a wide margin.  Cumulative labour market  growth over the 20 year period has been 8% in NB – next closest is NS at 12.7%.  Across Canada, the labour force has grown by over 30%.  They have seen per capita provincial government debt increase since 1997 faster than all other provinces except BC and Alberta which doesn’t really count because their debt is so low relative to the provinces from Manitoba eastward.

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Some of them are frustrated about shale gas (both ways).  Some are  angry at NB Power.  Most are angry with the provincial and federal government.  The are moderately comfortable but supremely frustrated.

So what’s a zombie to do?  Most will live another 20 years or so and have a lot of talent.  I’d like to see these zombies get back in the game in some way.

If the goal is to help the province – they would be much more valuable helping than sniping from the sidelines.  As Spock says in one of the Star Trek movies as a matter of cosmic history it is much easier to destroy than to create.

We see some of this.  Daryl Branscombe’s Coalition of Concerned Citizens is New Brunswick’s response to the Traveling Wilburys but they genuinely want to use the horsepower around their table to add value to the process.  We need more of this not less.

Get in the game.  Yeah, I can be accused of phoning it in.  Occasionally my writing is a bit sloppy and superficial.  But after 25 years of this stuff I still think we can move the needle in the right direction.

Project out 20 years.  If New Brunswick is much more multicultural, if its urban centres are dynamic, if a next generation of ambitious entrepreneurs has emerged, if we have a strong economy that is generating the tax revenue to sustain good quality public services and infrastructure then you, dear zombie, can take pleasure in your dotage that you played a small role.

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Will the NB economy keep on truckin’?

 

Those of you who have followed this blog for a while will know that I believe good economic development strategy is based on a strong understanding of your economy, its assets and attributes and on determining what is an appropriate role for government to leverage these assets and attributes to foster private business investment, job creation and a solid economic growth trajectory.  This solid economic growth trajectory is foundational to ensuring we have the tax base needed to sustainably fund the public services, support and infrastructure we all take for granted these days.

New Brunswick, for example, has the largest truck transportation sector in Canada as a share of GDP. The sector employs nearly 9,000 workers in New Brunswick – nearly as many as the other three Atl. Provinces combined.

Historically, much of the regional trucking sector has been based in New Brunswick – Moncton but also the Woodstock/Carleton area of the province and other regions.  A number of large trucking firms – Armour, Midland, Day & Ross, etc. established head and back offices here as well as their trucking workforce.

But in the last few years, the dynamic is changing.  The GDP contribution from the sector has only grown marginally while expanding rapidly in most other provinces.  The role of NB as a regional truck transportation powerhouse is slipping as the GDP growth has only been 5% over the past decade compared to robust growth in Nova Scotia, PEI and elsewhere.

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The truck transportation sector is one facing significant upheaval.  The available workforce has been tightening for years leading to retrenchment in employment.  The loss of jobs is also tied to productivity improvements such as the introduction of the ‘road train’.

Moving forward the industry will be buffeted by many trends including new technologies, the potential rise of automated vehicles, the aging workforce, etc.  At the same time, the locally based trucking firms face significant competition from national firms.

We can sit back, pop the popcorn and watch the story unfold or we can get industry leaders in a room and have a conversation about where their industry is going and if there are issues in the realm of government control that can be leveraged to help embrace the changes – steer into the skid if you will.

AVs may not get traction here in the short term because of our winters – or they may.  Immigrants may be a source of new workers moving forward.  Governments could allocate a tiny portion of the billions of taxpayer dollars spent on R&D every year in Canada to this sector.  We could encourage more startups at the intersection of technology and trucking.

Or we can enjoy that nice, buttery popcorn.

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Where do good ideas come from?

Walking around London and Paris these last few days I keep bumping into some of the biggest thinkers of the past 400 years or so.  We walked around Bloomsbury and I was reminded of Keynes and his Bloomsbury group.  We toured the Panthéon today and got up close and personal with some of the top enlightenment thinkers.  It got me thinking again that New Brunswick has not been able to marshal its biggest brains to think about our biggest challenges.

StracheyFamily

The NBSPRN was something like an attempt at this and I am sure it is adding some value and there have been ‘labs’ set up to deal with issues such as immigrant retention and poverty but I am thinking about something far more ambitious.

I know that the challenges of New Brunswick are small beans compared to the big stuff – autonomous vehicles, artificial intelligence, global warming, populism, health care costs, etc.  but New Brunswick will largely be a taker and not a maker in these areas (although I hope that some of our innovative firms will leverage these trends).  But as I have said before, quoting the great Leslie Neilson, “the problems of two people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this world – but this is our hill and these are our beans”.

But we could be a maker – an innovator – when it comes to the stuff that is fairly unique to places like New Brunswick.   Think about the discussion we have been having lately about New Brunswick’s brand and its inability to differentiate its key export products – even though it is a North American leader.  The way it works now is that a few earnest folks in one or more government departments will try to do something and sometimes it works – others not so much.  Imagine if we had a forum where for a short period of time we could bring in the top minds – from here and when necessary abroad – to tackle the key challenges in short, intense sessions and come up with a white paper with innovative and workable ideas – in days not years – that could be shared with government, industry, etc.

Maybe I am just naïve, but we are facing some whoppers – how do we attract and retain a ‘wave’ of immigrants when we haven’t seen anything like it in 150 years?  What public policy tools could help us foster the next generation of ambitious entrepreneurs?  In a world where borders are more porous than ever before how do we position a small place like New Brunswick?   We have the third most rural population among the 60 Canadian provinces and U.S. states?  How do we grow when the largest urban centres are pulling away?  When the federal government has a built in bias towards large and ‘super’?

I spent 2+ years in government in a senior role and met and interacted with some brilliant folks but I can tell you there is very little concentrated and coordinated capacity for the kind of thinking that we need.

In fact, I am mostly personally running out of ideas.   I haven’t had a big eureka moment (at least in my mind) in a while.

There are big brains in this province and for the subjects where we don’t have the intellectual chops we should go out and find them.

The problem, of course, is process.  I would like to be able to bring 10 top thinkers for 2 weeks – put them in a room and tell them not to come out until they have great ideas to solve problem x.    I would like to have a kind of think tank that would be churning out ideas – an ideas factory – based on the best and most creative ideas from around the world – and applying them to New Brunswick’s challenges.  Kind of a new Pugwash – but for local challenges that could be applied globally.

But who pays?  Who runs it? Is it government?  Is it industry?  Academia?  One big philanthropist?  This is the main challenge.  There is not a lot of appetite to fund this kind of thinking in a small province without a lot of surplus cash around.

So we will continue to wait around and hope that good ideas elsewhere will eventually find their way down here.  I think we are missing an opportunity.

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