Why I don’t trust entrepreneurs

Beyond the inflammatory title, I actually love entrepreneurs – I work for one – and I think they are a key part of the future for New Brunswick.

But they are only a part.

We need to have a solid base of global capital and global corporations.

Rick Buckingham, president and CEO of Canadian 2 for 1 Pizza Inc., has been writing columns in the TJ about economic development. This week, he writes a rousing column entitled:

Preemptive transitional change – a case for a sustainable New Brunswick economy

Now, before you click on that link and savour the prose as much as the pizza, consider this. He makes no mention at all about attracting major corporations to the province. None.

Why would he? He’s an entrepreneur. He wants policies and efforts to support entrepreneurs.

He cites the case of Waterloo as a model for New Brunswick to follow. He lists off a dozen thinks we can copy from Waterloo: Be entrepreneurial, Innovate, Keep our smart people in New Brunswick, Build a ‘can do’ mentality, Create an environment that allows venture capital to flow into entrepreneurial ventures, and on and on. Nary a mention of attracting global corporations.


Tee. Hee. Hee.

While there are some very impressive entrepreneurial start ups in Waterloo (unprecidented in Canada really), here’s a list of a few of the companies there that moved into Waterloo:

Babcock and Wilcox

Again, don’t get me wrong. Waterloo is one of the best examples of homegrown high tech industry but even there, foreign investment is all over the place – in the form of large corporations and in the form of investment into many of these firms.

I might choke on this but we might be better off listening to a few enlightened journalists rather than the business boys/gals.

Who can we trust to look at the world through a non-vested lense? Universities? Local entrepreneurs? Unions? How about our friend Crowley-Hayek? They all see the world through their own vector and that’s what you get.

But the universities want more money but can’t prove they are helping to gird up new industries and stop population decline.

Local entrepreneurs have their own perspective in mind.

Unions? Don’t talk to me about unions. They are the most democratic organization in the world. The majority of CUPE members are in Ottawa so CUPE fought tooth and nail against any efforts to move federal government jobs to Atlantic Canada.

The majority of CAW members are in southern Ontario. So don’t expect any union support -whatsoever – for using the auto sector for regional development. They forget that the unions were very supportive of similar strategies in Ireland.

And Crowley? Remember Alec Bruce’s pinata. ‘Nuff said.

Who can we trust to be unbiased?

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0 Responses to Why I don’t trust entrepreneurs

  1. Anonymous says:

    If BNB were actually doing what they are mandated to do, you would have no need for your blog or the 2 for 1 guy’s column. Get out there and sell NB! Intel just announced today that they are partnering with India to build computers for the low-income market. Why not NB?

  2. Anonymous says:

    First, to rain on the parade, NCR has been in Waterloo a LONG time, and like Lazy Boy has seen layoffs and who knows what will come down the pike (Lazy boy closed in Waterloo, leaving 400 people out of work). Babcock and Wilcox are not even in Waterloo, unless you are talking about the Region of Waterloo and not the City. They exist SOLELY because of the federal government, if you remember they were declaring Chapter 11 when the government came in with a bailout package and a whole list of ‘contracts’.

    Google is in Waterloo because it purchased Reqwireless-a university startup.

    The reasons for McAfee, again, are university related and government related:

    “McAfee is expanding in a section of Waterloo known as Canada’s Technology Triangle, which is an economic development partnership marketing the Waterloo region, and the Ontario cities of Kitchener and Cambridge.

    Canadian and Ontario research and development incentives also make the region an attractive place for technology businesses to establish operations.

    The Canadian government and the provincial government of Ontario each contributed $4.1 million (Canadian) to the project, with the city of Cambridge and the Cambridge Business Consortium covering the rest of the $27 million cost.”

    Keep in mind, McAfee only provides 50 jobs, so again, are we subsidizing yet another industry?

    But if you don’t have the universities-you aren’t going to get that kind of growth. Microsoft set up shop for only a few employees primarily because there is so much computer industry. For those watching education, you will remember the controversy that the University of Waterloo has changed curricula in order to ‘sell’ Microsoft products to its classes (that’s just to show that even when you have huge industry and corportions have an interest in your area, there are still ‘compromises’ to be made).

    As for ‘who to trust’, I suggest it depends simply on what a person says. Even liars and crooks are occasionally right and have a point. There are a LOT of sources out there, there’s no reason to take anything said at face value. Personally, I ‘trust’ your facts primarily because you footnote them, however, that doesn’t mean I agree with your conclusions (so I don’t ‘trust’ that you are correct).

    You should reread your recent Irish history if you think their unions simply accepted rollbacks-far from it. I’ve been in Dublin many times over the past decade and hardly a trip goes by that there aren’t huge demonstrations somewhere in the city, much of it union.

    There are of course other unions besides CAW, and there is a reason that they call unions ‘Local’, because not every local is on the same page. Also, people are free to start their own unions if they want to, and they vote for that. Most see more value in the trade off of belonging to a larger union so that they will have more political power.

    Government has no trouble dealing with unions, it’s doubtful that Ottawa kept those civil service jobs just because they are a union. No doubt there simply is no real reason to move those jobs to areas of less representation (in other words, they’ll lose votes and maybe ridings).

    It seems that there is a leading toward ‘trust’ to people simply because of their occupation, which seems odd. I wouldn’t inherently trust a business journalist with Irvings papers (is there such a thing?) than I would an entrepreneur.

    While entrepreneurs obviously don’t want to see direct competition, what is good for the community is usually good for them. That doesn’t mean their comments are worth more than any others.

    What is most bothersome about this is the fact that this is the second ‘business analysis’ that came from a pizza vendor. It’s odd that somebody who makes a mean pie also has the credentials to comment on business matters. However, like everybody, sometimes they have a point, sometimes not-that’s what debate is for and why blogging is so popular.

  3. David Campbell says:

    You are raining on such a friendly parade!

    Look it. Foreign businesses can be bastards. They will close a plant without a second thought. They will nickel and dime. Some can be fairly ruthless.

    But we can’t grow this economy without them. I implore you to show me a model where you can transform a remedial economy in to a healthy one without external investment. In 15 years of looking I can’t find one.

    As for your comments about unions what are you saying? That the local for the CAW could lobby for an auto plant here and negotiate competitive wage rates (adjusted to cost of living) without Buzzes permission? Come on. That doesn’t make any sense.

    The NB native Buzz will be dead, buried and bleached before he let’s a unionized auto plant come east. I already fought an email battle with his chief economist over this a few years ago. They are convinced that there is no economic model that supports the growth of an auto cluster in Atl. Canada.

  4. Anonymous says:

    First, let’s talk about CAW. It would be odd if they didn’t see SOME value in auto jobs in the east because according to the press release, they are one of the sponsors of the Atlantica Conference. Clearly they have some kind of interest.

    The CAW doesn’t serve the needs of New Brunswickers because it serves its members, not economies. They have their hands full keeping jobs in Ontario let alone what could potentially be job losses to the east. Remember, whenever NB pushes its labour force, the first thing they talk about is it’s non union nature-that was also true of Bricklyn. So they’d be crazy to talk about setting up an auto industry elsewhere-do you really think GM, Ford and Chrysler LIKE unions? They’re having a tough enough time with Toyota and Honda.
    So I’m really missing the point of that one, their actions make perfect sense to me.

    But again, the CAW is only one union, and Locals all over the country often diverge from their view. Just because the media loves Buzz and gives him front page every time he blows his nose is no reason to think that he epitomizes unionism. This was in the matter of ‘trust’, and I can guarantee you that if you ask a union member whether he ‘trusts’ his leaders (who he at least could vote for and get rid of), you’ll get a far different answer than whether an employee of Microsoft ‘trusts’ Bill Gates to do whats best for that employee’s particular job.

    As for the other, I don’t even know what ‘remedial’ means. You seem to be looking at aggregate factors to show the ‘success’ or ‘failure’ of a particular economy. That’s sort of like looking for factors to prove one particular theory.

    Irving has made billions from easy access to resources. That’s pretty successful, likewise McCains was given millions in subsidies as well as control of the loan departments of most banks in the river valley to help turn the valley into potato central. It’s not the fault of the economy is our government doesn’t see fit to tax wealth (even just hidden wealth).

    The Co-Op is a perfect example of a successful model. There was no ‘external’ money, just some funding and protection of their markets. Dunsters Donuts got started without external funding, and the window industry was already strong in Kent county when Sweden bought into it.

    In fact in almost every case I can think of, it was INTERNAL money that built up economies. Cuba did it so successfully that the US has had an embargo on them for forty years. The russians didn’t scare the US because of missiles, but because like other socialist countries they proved modernization within a single generation. They went from third world to (debateably) first world in a matter of decades.

    And interestingly enough it only took ten years of ‘capitalism’ to push them right back to third world status.

    Virtually ALL new industries in our economy have been built with public money (meaning without external funding): the internet, phone system, virtually all power advancements.

    So the truth is the opposite, I’d like to find a single economic indicator (besides GDP and we’ve been over that) that shows success from FDI. The Confederation Bridge provided jobs for many years, but only temporary and now all those funds go directly to the private consortium, even though government paid a fair share.

    Gas lines are being built all across the province, while it is mostly private money, even it benefits from government kicking people off their land.

    We can return to Waterloo, there is a reason software is there-because the universities are there. That was all built up by public money.

    So the reality seems to be that private money flows to where there is significant public investment. The public investment must be there first, or else the private money has no reason to go there-as New Brunswick proves. The province has nothing to offer that no other region can’t offer, and combine that with a tiny market, high illiteracy, low wages, no growth, and its obvious why FDI doesn’t come to the province.

    You can ‘buy’ off a computer gaming company and get them to locate here, but that is not an entire economy, just one facet of it, just like dairy production is. Of course we’ve already agreed that that would be a welcome addition, within reason, but the reality is that in a democratic system it is far more likely that you can get more investment internally than you can externally when you have nothing to offer. It takes work though.