Conversation on economic development

The cynical are saying that this is just another ploy to open up health care to the private sector. I am getting tired of cynics. I think that it makes great sense to have a ‘conversation’ with British Columbians around health care and the growing costs of health care.

But that’s not the point for this blog.

I think we need, in New Brunswick, to have a ‘conversation on economic development. The time to do it is when there is a new government and people are more open to new ideas. This should be a wide ranging 12 month process that would accomplish a few things and end up with a final report recommending the top economic sectors the government should focus on for the next 10 years or so. The process should generate these outcomes:

1. Educate (not scare) the public at large about the extent of the economic challenges in New Brunswick and the serious consequences of not acting. After seven years of having the wool pulled over our eyes, we need to have a serious conversation.

2. Find out what types of jobs would keep our young people here and equally important attract expats back. What sectors? What pay levels? What are the regional differences? This should be done by employing a novel technique – asking people.

3. Exploring the global economy for clues as to what sectors are growing and what opportunities are there for New Brunswick.

4. Assessing the existing economic basic and teasing out the nuggets of economic advantage that could be leveraged into much more.

5. Getting input from a wide group of stakeholders from local economic developers, business leaders, unions, environmental groups. These should be growth-oriented alternatives – not more whining about how bad things are (I include myself in this list).

6. Developing a list of key economic sectors that the province should focus on based on points 1-5 above. It should address the key gaps to the growth of those sectors It should assess the kind of product development required and it should clearly articulate the best economic development infrastructure to support the growth of those sectors.

Let’s have a conversation. Not 4-5 buddies at the Cool Camel. Not 10-12 people on a blog. Let’s open it up wide and have a serious chat. At the end of the day, moving this economy ahead will involve sacrifice. Instead of plowing all new money into health care (read: Jeannot Volpe) it may mean that 25% of new money goes into economic development. I don’t know.

Who knows? Maybe New Brunswickers will say stay the course. Maybe they will be happy with New Brunswick becoming one large old folks home paid for by Ontario and Alberta tax dollars. Maybe, but I doubt it.

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0 Responses to Conversation on economic development

  1. Anonymous says:

    People have every right to be cynical. Gordon Cambbell was elected to have absolute power to make any decision by far less than half of British Columbians, and just a quick look at his decisions shows he has little interest in the demands of most of the people. So get used to the cynicism-when the political structure changes and people have some power, there will be far less cynicism-if you are REALLY sick of cynics, then try helping out that cause.

    And that’s not a tangent because the same applies in New Brunswick. While every blogger out there thinks THEY have the answers, in reality it takes a great deal of hubris to think one is god and knows whats best for everybody.

    Don’t get TOO prickly but we pretty much know your ‘conversation’ is pretty one sided. There wasn’t exactly too many invitations, say, to those protesting at Atlantica to come on and voice their opinions (and I recall things getting pretty irate around here when I was voicing that opinion). And the word ‘should’ doesn’t exactly open up the conversation, it closes it down. (and to be honest, I see very little mention here of ‘fringe’ issues so I”m wondering where exactly you’re encountering all these cynics)

    Asking people ‘what kind of jobs’ isn’t a tough task. An anecdotal comment is from that book I was reading about Frank’s ‘Work for EI’ program way back when. I mentioned before about how many people were relegated to cutting brush at the side of the road. What I DIDN”T mention, is that records show that people were VERY happy doing it!

    So essentially a good percentage of people will do ANY job so long as it provides the means to live. Fast food and the tourism industry certainly don’t supply those jobs. A warehouse job in Ontario STARTS at $14 an hour. I’ve seen management level jobs that don’t pay that. It may make sense if you are a small company and struggling, when two of the families that own most of the companies are among the richest in the world it is simply wage slavery.

    Finding growth sectors doesn’t take exploring, ten seconds on the internet will tell you those. I have no idea what number 4 means, you’ll have to be more specific.

    From stakeholders, well, hate to tell you but there’s LOTS of input from business leaders and unions (some of them). A little TOO much input in many cases.

    Again, you don’t need to make much effort to ‘find out’ these things. They are CONSTANTLY asked these things, that’s what government committee’s do-they PRETEND to listen.

    So natives and small woodlot owners want a guaranteed price for their wood, they want government to STOP ‘giving’ away public land (these guys work in the private sector, but here is the govenrment massively subsidizing five companies yet you NEVER hear about that in the media).

    And of course we KNOW that smaller woodlot operations are more labour intensive. We know it because the only growth in jobs has been when natives were given 5% of the allowable cut and they started hiring people. We KNOW that, we don’t need studies, we don’t need to ask, they’ve said it over and over.

    That almost never raises a reply, even at blogs. That may very well rule out number six, because there is no SHOULD in economic development. ED is what WORKS, and just because something works in one area doesn’t mean it won’t work elsewhere. My idea before was derided about instrument making, but how many here think that Sabien (or the other one, I get them confused) was a bad business model?

    Here is a company in the sticks which employs local people in an interesting field which lets them stay close to home. That started from ONE guy. No it doesn’t provide hundreds of jobs, but many rural areas don’t NEED hundreds, they need maybe a hundred to anchor other businesses.

    The other reason to pitch that is that the jobs with the highest levels of satisfaction are generally creative ones, not sitting at a phone ones.

    And again, just ask organizations like the Maritime Fishermans’ Union. These people keep speaking but its NEVER covered by the press. Gee, wonder why? And of course where else is this ‘conversation’ going to take place. I’ve tried, but you can’t even get other bloggers to talk about this stuff, they are more interested in fringe topics or whats going on in Ottawa.

    That doesn’t mean it CANT happen. As I’ve said, if YOU actually contacted somebody like the Maritime Fisherman’s union and said “I have a stump you can speak from, I’d like to come by some night”. Or of course just giving voice to their needs works as well. But these guys don’t get print, so you won’t see it in the paper, but virtually every region will have issues like that. Contact the regional staff of BNB and ask what is their pet project, or possible project. Put up a poster outside the local unemployment office advertising a website where they can post what types of jobs they need, or what sort of job they would create. The most unfortunate thing about EI policies is that ‘business ideas’ are only of interest provided people are HIRING lots of people.

    That’s unfortunate, because it doesn’t take much initiative to earn enough bucks to get by, and from that you get NATURAL growth.

    But those are LOBBY initiatives that need to be brought to government, and like you say NOW is a good time. BUt they have many voices knocking, the only response they hear is the lobby.

  2. David Campbell says:

    You have read my blog. You know I don’t claim to have all the answers. I come at the issues from a certain perspective but at the end of the day I am looking for things that can work – i.e. gird up the NB economy for the future. Your positions, as I have said, seem to come from an informed perspective and I hope that through this venue and others your points are getting across. At the end of the day, we need to change things – a sea change – and I have no time for anyone who doesn’t agree with that basic tenet.

  3. Freddy Beach says:

    Speaking of opening up discussion:

    STU and CBC is hosting a forum on Wednesday night to discuss out-migration in NB and how to counter it.

    I don’t expect miracles but at least people are starting to look at some the challenges and trying to come up with solutions.

    Any interest in coming up to Freddy Beach David?

  4. Freddy Beach says:

    Sorry I didn’t see your earlier post.

  5. David Campbell says:

    I’d love to get up but I have to take my daughter to the ballet….