Top ten list

For what it’s worth, ten tidbits of advice for the new government – with a particular focus on economic development:

1. Split off a group modelled after Nova Scotia Business Inc. Head it with a top mind in economic development (and a kick arse sales guy/gal). Trying to work a revolution in BNB will be very tough.

2. Make a commitment to ramp up funding for economic development generally to 2-3% of the total government spend by 2008.

3. Re-envision the Fed/Prov relationship not around demands for more Equalization but around a partnership for economic development. Try to get the Feds to cost share on a number of fronts such as industry attraction, significantly increasing R&D funding, strategic sectors investment.

4. Pick a few economic sectors to focus on for both local entrepreneurs and attracting global leaders. Don’t make this a silly academic exercise. If you choose animation as a key growth sector – then make serious investments to train computer animators, attract computer animators, build infrastructure, build partnerships, attract global firms, etc.

5. Re-envision the Prov/Municipal relationship. Engage local communities and local organizations such as the Enterprise Network into joint partnerships. Get the locals revved up on your vision for the future.

6. Look seriously at consolidating the 15 Enterprises into 6-7 maybe 8. We need to build stronger urban/rural ties and we don’t do that by putting urban and rural communities in silhos.

7. Partner more with adjacent provinces/states. We’re all facing many of the same problems. There are ways to work together. For example, the Port of Halifax is strategic to New Brunswick – vital to this province. If we put on our silly, traditional blinders we won’t see this.

8. Have a liaison in every government department that links to your economic development vision. I hope to never, ever hear the Deputy of Health saying “I’m not into economic development”. Every time a government department does a deal with a US supplier, some one should call them up and say “Hey, have you considered setting up in New Brunswick?”.

9. Engage key industry groups – chambers, CFIB, Biz Council, etc. – but always remember they have a very vested interest in their own stakeholders’ needs. The government must be above – well above the fray on this. Economic development is about a holistic view of attracting our share of global investment, incubating high quality growth-oriented firms, supporting capacity building, addressing workforce needs, etc.

10. Finally, respond to the public. That sounds simple but if I had nickel for everybody (in a private or work capacity) that send a letter or made a call over the past seven years and didn’t get a response from the Premiers’ Office right on down the line, I’d be a millionaire (or at least have coffee money). One thing’s for sure, there was no fatal blow on Monday night. The Lord government died from a thousand little cuts. Some cuts, like Charles LeBlanc, bleed more than others but on the whole the best politicians take citizen contact very seriously – almost religously as each spurned citizen turns out to be a spurned voter. People aren’t stupid. They know that every request cannot be met but they at least expect consideration.

That’s it. Ten little recommendations to add to the pile that is most likely running waist deep right about now.

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0 Responses to Top ten list

  1. NorthShoreDefection says:

    I love that list David. Well done.

  2. Anonymous says:

    1. Split off a group modelled after Nova Scotia Business Inc.

    Forget that. Tell everyone at BNB that their paycheques now depend on their business contacts elsewhere and how many investors, or potentical investors they bring to the province, or new initiatives that they bring up from within. Tell them they’ve got one year to show some preliminary results, or else they are out on their can.

    2. Make a commitment to ramp up funding for economic development generally to 2-3% of the total government spend by 2008.

    That’s not going to provide any revolution. Even an overall increase is fine, if you spend more on health, spend more on ED. Have some balls and charge the billionaires for sucking out all the resources to help pay for it.

    3. Re-envision the Fed/Prov relationship not around demands for more Equalization but around a partnership for economic development.

    It’s not the feds fault if all the equalization goes toward health and education. They’ve been caughing up more dollars, it just hasn’t been going to ED. To get the feds serious, you need the initiative. You need a place where research is being done. The feds contributed to the medical school in Sudbury, find a municipality that will put some resources into it, then put some and hit the feds for the rest.

    4. Pick a few economic sectors to focus on for both local entrepreneurs and attracting global leaders.

    If you going to help animators you can do with little investment: a New Brunswick television station. Rogers obviously has no interest in showcasing NB talent unless its on a ‘daytime show’ or ‘conversation show’. Tell them to *&^% off and partner up with local councils and St.Andrews (who already has started one). That creates a venue for people all over the world to see NB culture products, its worth more than all the ‘trade shows’ they’ve ever done combined.

    5. Engage local communities and local organizations such as the Enterprise Network into joint partnerships.

    Start handing out some money.

    6. Look seriously at consolidating the 15 Enterprises into 6-7 maybe 8.

    Kind of defeats the point of the above. That’s hardly necessary, just look at politics and you see what happens-larger areas take advantage of smaller ones. A smaller regional enterprise will get involved in a project if it serves its interest, if not, then they shouldn’t and partnering them with a more urban area to ‘force’ them to is NOT “engaging local communities”

    7. Partner more with adjacent provinces/states.

    That’s garbage. The Saint John port has as much to offer as Halifax, in fact even more since it is closer to markets. Why the hell would NB ignore its own ports to help out Halifax? They already are doing that with their federal tax dollars when the port accesses federal cost sharing programs. NB has enough problems, enhancing Nova Scotia seems just insane when considering the focus of this blog.

    8. Have a liaison in every government department that links to your economic development vision.

    You don’t need more bureaucracy, jobs are foremost on just about every NBers mind. You need to open up government more and make its operations transparent. Who even knows anything about purchasing decisions at local boards? If they did, I guarantee there’d be an economic focus to it.

    10. Finally, respond to the public.

    Again, don’t just ‘respond’ to the public. The public is not nearly as stupid as people think. Hey, we’re part of the public.

    However, let’s be real. Lord didn’t suffer from ‘a thousand cuts’, he suffered from a dysfunctional electoral system long since abandoned by every democratic nation.

    Imagine this, your party gets more votes than it did in the last election, in fact gets more votes than your opposition, in fact gets only 13% fewer votes than the liberals got in 87 which gave them every seat in the house— AND YOU STILL LOSE!

    That’s just an embarassment, and the people who say “thats our system” should be ashamed of themselves. In every nation when people meet a system that is dysfunctional they get off their asses and do something about it.

    At least Lord was going to have a referendum, now what chance is there of that? New Brunswick COULD have been ‘the province to watch’ , it could have been the province that showed the vision that every other province would be emulating. Instead, it looks like that innovation for the east coast will once again go to Ontario next year, and once again the maritimes will be light years behind the times, and wonder why nobody wants to invest here.