ICT closing centre in Miramichi

Someone in the Miramichi tells me that ICT Group is shutting its Miramichi verification center in Douglastown down by March 2007, citing restructuring. Apparently all verification work is heading to Ireland and Hyderabad, India. ICT is apparently offering tranfers to the inbound centre which is higher stress and faces higher turnover.

I sincerely hope that BNB is on top of this. The person that contacted me says no but I hope that’s a mistake.

There are a couple of points I need to make here before certain Anonymous posters tell me this is what happens when foreign companies set up in the province.

Miramichi is teetering on the edge of a fairly significant economic crisis. The pulp mill is is jeopardy. Premier Lord gave them millions last year but I am told that is just a short term bandaid. Now ICT is downsizing. I hope that someone in the media can get a clear handle on just what the damage will be. It’s easy for Al Hogan in the T&T to go on at great length (as he did a couple of days ago) about how great New Brunswick’s economy is. If he would take a drive in his Hummer outside Moncton and talk with people, he might have a different view.

I don’t know the specifics about ICT in Miramichi so I don’t really want to bad mouth the company. I do know that there are some call centres who have not increased their wage rates commensurate with the changing market conditions. Maybe ICT’s margins are so tight that they cannot, I don’t know.

The bottom line is that the people that are charged with economic development in the Miramichi and at BNB need to sit down and come up with a serious strategy to grow a few very targeted niche industries to replace those that are leaving or to mitigate the potential effects of a major mill closure.

Is it animation? We know there are some nuggets of opportunity there. Is it aerospace? There’s at least one multinational firm operating there and doing well. Is it higher value added call centres? Ones that can keep employees and offer career tracking? Is it something to do with wood? I don’t know. I do know that someone told me the strategic plan for the region acknowledged a decline in forestry jobs and was pushing for more tourism. You can’t replace forestry jobs with tourism jobs prima facie.

And to my previous points, it’s not just about a new ‘brochure’ saying come to Miramichi. There needs to be a deliberate effort. Key investments made. Serious ‘product development’.

Consider the Atlantic Technology Centre on PEI. The government (s) put millions into a building to attract and grow the IT sector in Charlottetown (a city not much larger than Miramichi). People said they were crazy (the whole ‘build it and will they come?’ thing).

There are now something like 20 IT and related firms in that facility and the recently announced AIM Trimark 300 person facility will start out in the ATC before moving into its own building (not enough space in the ATC).

Physical buildings like this are one tool to attract industry but certainly not the only tool. The NBCC needs to be a key player. How about a specific campaign targeting the dozens if not hundreds of expatriate NBCC Miramich graduates in animation and IT? How would that be for a calling card when you pitch EA or some other firm to set up in the city. “We have a database of 300 exMiramichiers that have said they would be interested in moving back in the IT/animation field if there was a good career opportunity”. R&D is another potential tool. Hiring a cracker jack IT/animation professional to sell the Miramichi is another. Setting up a VC fund and targeting Gazelle firms like FatKat to expand in the Miramichi. By the way, restricting this type of funding to NB only firms makes no sense whatsoever. The NBIF should be targeting firms willing to move into this region.

But I digress.

All of this doesn’t help the people affected by the ICT downsizing. They will be faced with choices. Move away. Try and go on EI for a term. Take a job at less pay.

At some point, somebody will start connecting the dots.

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0 Responses to ICT closing centre in Miramichi

  1. Anonymous says:

    Good to know I don’t have to make my point anymore, it’s been pretty much made for me. Keep in mind you still have the same problem when NEW companies come to replace those that find greener pastures elsewhere.

    But buildings and advertising don’t cut it, any more than tourism does. For animation, again you have the familiar problem-no market. The animation sectors are in Quebec and Southern Ontario, thats where the schools are. It doesn’t make sense to move a company to an area with a few graduates from a comm. college when Sheridan is 40 minutes away.

    But I’ll keep tooting my horn because maybe that guy that keeps posting here talking about how industry wants to help technology industries is paying attention. A television station is the way to go.

    Paying for a public television station can come from different sources, but of course it takes PEOPLE and industry to make it happen because setup costs money (mostly transmission). To do that you have to go up against Rogers.

    However, that is another interesting thing, which is that you can simply mandate that Rogers license be made to include specific amounts of New Brunswick production.

    If the CRTC could do it, so can the province. Rogers will scream and shout, but I have it on good authority that their license PROHIBITS them from featuring New Brunswick productions. All those movies being shown at the various provincial film festivals CAN”T be shown on Rogers because of the terms of their license.

    They can only do news shows and ‘talk’ to New Brunswickers for content. That’s hardly ‘culture’.

    So perhaps that is an easier tact and hopefully some people on here will get on the bandwagon. Change the Rogers license so that they HAVE to feature NB productions. They won’t like it, they are trying to turn the company in the province into all volunteers, but the province controls the ground where the cables are, so thats you and me.

    So imagine if instead of showing ‘one on one’ fifty times a day they had animation. Animation shorts are so bloody easy I could do one today.

    That’s how shows get bigger, Red Green had a show called Smith and Smith that started out in one station in Hamilton, then affiliates bought it. If Rogers won’t do that, the hell with them, get another group. Fund the hell out of the group in St.Andrews so that they can broadcast province wide and make that part of their mandate.

    All this takes money, so if that guy who talks about private corporate investment in the province has some connections, us people should think seriously about this. Government isn’t going to do this on their own, and Irving isn’t going to advertise it, so that means you and me people. There’s a time to stop complaining and actually do something. Who are these companies in Moncton who are involved in this technology deal? Who are the ones in Saint John?

  2. scott says:

    Is it animation?

    Great post. I’m with you on the ICT chain of call centres, they are nothing more than slave labour for the uneducated. Well, you didn’t actually say that, but you get my drift.

    Also, from what I hear, the turnover rate at these places, particularly ICT, is absolutely atrocious. But to be fair, I had heard that the Miramichi location wasn’t as bad as the Moncton centres. Unfortunately, I don’t have numbers to back up that claim. Regardless, it [ICT] wasn’t instilling any sense of pride in the community. It just made calls for action that much louder.

    However, when I was down in the Miramichi this fall, you couldn’t help but notice all the cars in the Miramichi Mall parking lot. It just happened to be the employee parking lot for ICT. There is no question that there will be a lot of people without a fairly steady pay cheque this Christmas. That’s a shame.

    As for animation and the gaming industry, that is a very good suggestion and building on what they already have there could very well be a winner for the region. But let’s be honest, it won’t happen without a plan. The “cargo cult” mentality won’t get er done David.

    More importantly, the question that community leaders in the Miramichi should be asking is what do we do with the many unemployed who are high school educated and have a grade 7 reading level? Where do they fit in a knowledge based economy? They just can’t sit and rot through life on social assistance. We need a solution, or at least a longterm action plan or goal, to this ongoing crisis.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I get the feeling that sometimes there really isn’t a point to posting to blogs, lots of people writing but nobody reading. Want a plan, see the above. But if people just like griping, well, there are blogs for that I guess. To actually DO something is something else. The point here is not pushing one idea or another, its simply the point that if nobody is prepared to do anything, why would you expect politicians to do so? They have constituents to listen to, the ones who can’t find work leave the area and are no longer constituents. So the ‘plan’ doesn’t come from politicians. Any plans that come from anywhere come from the grassroots, this is true in the states as much as it is in India. This blog is full of educated people whose conclusion seems to be “I don’t know…”.

  4. scott says:

    Any plans that come from anywhere come from the grassroots, this is true in the states as much as it is in India.

    A very utopian thought, indeed. I mean let’s be realistic here, if they listened to the grassroots, like you said, would the republicans not have pulled out of Iraq by now? And would they not have taken the presidents power of veto away from him?

  5. Anonymous says:

    I didn’t say the grassroots have power, I said that initiatives COME from grassroots. In the US at the federal level it is virtually impossible for grassroots issues to get on there, just the same as in Canada. That’s why ‘terrorism’ conveniently has massive new authority granted to the feds over state and local opposition.

    But this isn’t the US, and those are hardly utopian ideas. Again, we can look at virtually the ONLY grassroots action I’ve seen which is the Residential Tenants Act. This came from a lot of work getting attention to the matter and pounding the pavement.

    Public insurance is a ‘grassroots’ movement but there is no organization, which is why its no surprise the liberals abandoned, as virtually everybody knew they would.

    However, that doesn’t change the schema, go look at virtually every piece of legislation. Theres a reason that the Residential Tenants Act denied basic human rights to people forever here in NB-because nobody apart from the poor even KNEW about it. That changed with grassroots action.

    That’s what makes legislation, theres no surprise that when industry comes knocking, their needs get met first. They have the lobby power-people don’t. As another example it took 15 years from the time liberals were elected with a national day care platform to the time we actually saw one, and that one wasn’t comprehensive. That pressure came from lobby groups like the SOW-so its no surprise they’ve seen their funding gutted, just like Martin gutted any lobby groups that challenged nuclear power or CIDA.

    The states have far more advanced grassroots political movements, in Canada there is virtually nothing people can do. You can lobby forever and the government will still ignore you, so for grassroots in Canada, the only success comes from forming parties, and that worked well for the reform party and the PQ.

    The maritimes are a different story, there are very few grassroots organizations of any kind, which is why there is hardly any legislation. When there is no vehicle for grassroots action, that tends to limit them. Some places will have strong environmental movements, but that is usually helped by the media because environmental issues sell papers, yet in NB you have media owned by the worst polluter in the province so no matter what benefit is derived, you don’t hear about environmental, or labour issues. That makes it even HARDER for grassroots to gain a foothold and helps explain the NDP’s low success rate when Nova Scotia’s is practically ready to govern.

    Right next door to Maine you can look at their citizens initiatives and local referenda for examples of that. It was grassroots power that said no to LNG terminals-why? Well, because they have a MECHANISM for grassroots power, namely they have a referendum on the matter. That also get them a far better deal on the terminal they did have. In NB, well, we all know that story, there is literally nothing for people to do but roam the streets with signs, and most people know that has no effect at all.

    But at the federal level forget about it, virtually no grassroots power gets through, which is why the last twenty years has seen policies that are horrendously hard on workers in both Canada and the US. In NB you can work and get some results because its a small province, at the federal level, unless its somethinmg the media cares about, forget about it, it won’t happen. They did polls that showed almost 100 percent of canadians wanted labels on genetically modified foods, and almost three quarters wanted stricter regulations on what they were doing. The government didn’t care, which is why agricultural policy in canada is virtually written by Monsanto.

    Federally and provincially, just go look at the legislation to see what kinds of things get passed and you can practically see the organization that pushed for it. A clearer example would be municipally. Take changing a street signs name. Say its remembrance day and some person wants to change a street to ‘veterans way’. Well, it doesn’t happen from blogging about it or complaining, it comes from somebody showing up at town hall and stating what they want to do. If its benign, it will get passed, but if there are any difficulties, then you’ve got to show up with everybody on the street. On a clearly contentious issue its even harder and its well known that municipal governments are practically run by developers.

    Legislation and political action comes from the grassroots, that doesn’t mean that grassroots make policy, FAR from it. But anything that has favoured people in general has come from work at the grassroots level. They aren’t handouts.