Growth minus the stucco, please

Here’s my first dispatch from Phoenix, Arizona. After spending a few hours driving around here yesterday, I couldn’t help but pen a blog.

Phoenix is booming. From 1990 to 2000, the city grew its population by 34% and the Greater Phoenix area grew by over 50%. Since 2000, the population is up by over 15%. This is massive growth. Compare that with Moncton which grew by under 8% from 1991-2001.

Statewide, Arizona grew by 40% from 1990 to 2000 while New Brunswick’s population dropped.

Wow.

You know what always amazes me about the United States? That economic growth roams around this country like its on the prowl for virgin territory. Over the past 50 years almost every region of this country has had growth poles. From the Northwest, to the southwest, to California, Texas and the New South. Funny, though, in the past 10-15 years, places like New York, Boston, etc. – the dominant economies – have only exhibited very low growth – if any.

Contrast that with the True North Strong and Free where almost all population growth since 1971 has been in four small zones – the GTA, Calgary-Edmonton Corridor, Greater Vancouver and Metro Montreal (according to Stats Can).

As I have mentioned before, the OECD has chastised Canada for not promoting economic growth outside those core areas.

Still, in 2005, places like New Brunswick are still losing population and struggling just to keep what’s here – here (take the Nackawic example).

Maybe the Premier and his handlers should grab the Feds and come down here. They could get a taste of real economic growth. Maybe get bit by the bug. Maybe start to take the issue seriously.

But please, if we are going to get serious about economic development, let’s limit the stucco. This town is awash in plain beige buildings – commercial, residential, industrial – all stucco, all beige/brown – all boring.

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