Good news for the Miramichi

The construction of a bridge 4,000 kilometres away from Miramichi is part of the provincial government’s strategy to rebuild the economy of the northern New Brunswick city. The building of the Deh Cho Bridge in the Northwest Territories by the Atcon Group Inc. will add 150 jobs to the Miramichi economy thanks to the construction of a new $21.5-million steel fabrication plant.

This is good news for the Miramichi. I suspect that that jobs will be well paid.

But, I do have a comment.

The province is providing $7.5 million to the project or 35% of the set up costs of the plant.

A few years ago, I was involved with a project called Project Cougar (we think it was Michelin) that would have provided 1,200 high paying jobs. This was a $300 million project. The total ‘package’ offered by the provincial government (training grants, free land, etc.) was $23 million.

….or 7.6% of the total set up costs of the plant.

Needless to say, we lost that plant to the southern US.

Why is it okay to pay 35% of a small ATCON project (that, by the way will end when the bridge is done) and only offer 7.6% to a large, multinational project that would have provided 9 times as many jobs and a long term, viable project?

The Government of New Brunswick has got to start thinking bigger. Oh, but we can’t afford to attract those big plants.

Hmmm. Yet, you can put $67 million in government loans into a Nackawic plant with a few hundred jobs offering limited benefits.

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0 Responses to Good news for the Miramichi

  1. Anonymous says:

    Dare we say…Irving! From that view a short term make work project doesn’t have an impact on the province’s political economy. Another permanent multination might.

    However, do we know what the process was. Perhaps in a case like Michelin they simply didn’t expect it to be taken seriously anyway. But perhaps this deal had some connections where, like Nackawic, the officials got into a room with company honchos and hammered out a deal. Face it, Miramichi isn’t exactly next door.

    But this is why corporate welfare is such a dodgy issue. The provincial government is paying almost HALF the project costs. That’s very strange. At some point you have to ask why the hell doesn’t the government just set up more crown corporations and employ the people directly and keep the money.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I’d like to know how Irving would sanction this if it means that their (sorry – taxpayers) money is being handed out to somebody who is not them.
    Maybe they’ve been promised extra timber leases or more Crown land or something.
    But then again it IS short term and the tax dollars from the employees will mean more sustainable income for Irving to guilt out of the government.
    No point in the government setting up crown corporations because Irving will just undercut them and then walk away with the proceeds when the crown corps fold. Cheaper to just fork the money over to them in the first place and save everybody the pain.

  3. Danny D'Amours says:

    I’d like to point out that $1.2 million is coming from the Miramichi Regional Economic Development Fund and so is money that has already been allocated. This project definitely falls in line with what the Fund is designed for.

    In addition, the $3.25 million of the forwarded money is a repayable loan while the remaining $3.0 million is a forgivable loan. Are you assuming that the $3.25 is never going to be repayed?

    Also, is there any chance of developing this sector into something bigger and long term. Perhaps steel construction for offshore oil rigs or other future civil engineering projects?

    Maybe we could even leverage some federal funding????
    Nah, just wishful thinking….