Learning from Eastern Europe

As I listen to Mr. Equalization demand more handouts from Ottawa, once and a while I need a tonic to remind me there is a better way (and no, that’s not a Gin and Tonic).

I read this story recently and it warmed my heart.

I like it for several reasons:

1. The words ‘Irish’ and ‘tycoons’ used in the same sentence.

2. That it takes time to turn an economy around 30-40 years or so when you are talking about a serious challenge.

That’s why Al Hogan and Bubble Boy Bateman up at STU are dead wrong for criticizing Graham for his 2025 comments. We need a long term vision but then we need short term tactical plans to move us in the right direction.

3. I think the Eastern Europe example in a funny way portends hope for Atlantic Canada.

Now before the deluge of emails and postings describing how different the two cases are, save the ink. I realize Eastern Europe offers benefits Atl. Canada doesn’t. 30 cent on the dollar wages. In many cases a good post-secondary education system left over from the communist days pumping out thousands of qualified graduates. Close proximity to Europe. Multiple languages including English, etc.

But what I like about the Eastern Europe example is that it’s another situation where foreign investors got excited about a region that was essentially in the toilet – far deeper than New Brunswick ever was.

But the region started getting really good at marketing (I see the a new VP at NeoIT – what seemingly was a organization promoting India outsourcing – is Russian) itself.

I am not kidding. Within the last 2-3 years, eastern Europe has boomed on the radar as a hub for IT and back office work for Europe. Just like that.

Some of the world’s largest firms are putting 500 and 1,000 person IT studios in places like Bulgaria, Romania, Russia and Poland.

Atlantic Canada – as a region – should kick the Atlantica concept into high gear (sorry Maude) and position this region as the next growth region in North America. We shouldn’t stop until every major company in Europe and Asia knows our position – that Atlantic Canada should be their beachhead into the North American market.

We should have investment attraction offices in 25-30 of the top global markets and they should be staffed with top notch sales guys/gals pitching the beachhead or nearshore concept.

Back home, we should have among the most aggressive industry development and people attraction strategies in the developed world. 4-5 sectors should be identified and then all of the workforce training, industrial and business parks and other infrastructure should be developed.

Boom. Atlantica. Beachhead. Nearshore. Next great economic success story.

Or,

we can keep plowing 76% of ‘all new dollars’ into health care and grease the pole that are kids are using to slide outta here to Alberta.

You choose.

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0 Responses to Learning from Eastern Europe

  1. Anonymous says:

    If you already know this:

    “30 cent on the dollar wages…a good post-secondary education system…pumping out thousands of qualified graduates…Close proximity to Europe…Multiple languages including English, etc.”

    Then I suspect you know why its pointless to hire salespeople to sell a province that supplies NONE of the above.

    When you rely on the private sector, that’s the problem,you can’t actually advance policy, you can only beg and plead companies to come here..and end up with Repsol, Bennett and Molson. So hire people to get MORE corporate welfare recipients to ruin the environment and bail out whenever they want?

    I’m sure you can understand why not too many get excited about that. Even the Atlantica people don’t say that, they just want better transportation into, and through, the area (unless of course we want to throw them a few goodies like privatizing health care and energy).

    Yet it certainly doesn’t come down to two options, I urge any readers to read their history of the maritimes rights movement and the world famous antigonish movement to know there are hundreds of ways of making public policy, not two. It is right on though that people have to get involved, get educated, and get active-but that includes ALL people, not just politicians.