Premier Lord in New York

If you have read some of my previous blogs, you know that I am getting weary of all the sizzle and no steak (or more bun than burger) when it comes to economic development. Here’s a quote from the Premier’s Office today:

“We continue to maintain strong partnerships and a sound relationship with New York’s site selector community in order to raise our province’s profile as a gateway for trade and a magnet for investment,” Lord said. “In addition to being an ideal location for trade due to our geographic proximity to this marketplace, New York business executives need to also know that New Brunswick is one of the most competitive business locations in North America in terms of energy, leased space, payroll, and capital investments according to many business studies and one of the most competitive taxation jurisdictions in Canada. We are creating an environment that makes it attractive for new businesses to establish in our province and that creates more jobs for New Brunswickers.”

When was the last time a ‘New York business’ set up in New Brunswick? This exact statement could have been cut from a McKenna speech in 1990 and again in 1991 and 1992 and 1993 all the way to 2005.

Where are all the New York businesses? Show them to me. Please?

I am a big believer that the Premier should be out selling his province as a business location. However, I think that his visits should be tied to results. If, after many tries, there are still no New York businesses here, then somebody should reassess things.

If we are such an ‘ideal location’ why are we one of three states/provinces in North America with a declining population? If we are one of the ‘most competitive business locations’ why have we had one of the worst new job creation records in all of North America?

New Brunswick has close ‘proximity’ to New York? How about Maine? How about New Hampshire? How about Vermont? etc. etc. etc.

Someday, someone’s going to wake up and say, “Hey, when was the last time we attracted a large business investment from the U.S.?” Then, they will say “Why not”.

Then I will say, now it’s time to talk. As long as we are too busy listening to the sound of our own voices on this issue, we will get nowhere. Despite all the ‘trips’ by New Brunswick Premiers over the past two decades, a recent study of U.S. business executives concluded that Atlantic Canada was the last place in North America they would consider making a business investment.

What we need here is a ‘Wendy’s strategy of more burger than bun. We need to build the case for New Brunswick and not just the words.

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