A common complaint at the provincial government level and at the municipal level is that their big buddies at the higher level of government like to download services without proper funding.
Well, we are now seeing this in a fashion when it comes to the attraction of business to New Brunswick.
In the 1990s, the Department of Economic Development and Tourism had a fairly strong team of sales guys/gals out promoting New Brunswick and of course the lead sales guy, Frank McKenna, was especially active in this area.
Local economic development agencies did not do much ‘investment attraction’ back then. They basically made sure that when the provincial government brought a company to town that they ‘took over the sales pitch’ at the local level.
But, somewhat slowly, since 1999 the local communities have felt compelled to take on this function directly. Now most local economic development agencies have an ‘investment attraction’ function and a sales guy/gal. Check out Fredericton’s new approach here.
Now, I have no problem with this. In fact, I may have been the first economic development person in New Brunswick to work for a local economic development agency exclusively mandated to work on the investment attraction file.
However, investment attraction is like big game hunting. Or if you like similar to selling aircraft or other million or even billion dollar products. It takes top shelf sales guys/gals that have big budgets and long time horizons (you don’t sell a Boeing aircraft over night – the typical sales cycle can be 3-5 years or more). It takes senior executive commitment – from the boss on down.
So to the local economic development agencies I say bravo. But I hope there is a crackerjack team of professionals at Business New Brunswick to work with. I hope there are a dozen or so sales guys/gals stationed in top markets such as India. I hope that CEO of this province and his counterpart at the mother ship are in agreement as to the importance of this division.