Ottawa may help dying company towns?

This is an interesting little reference:

The next federal budget may include assistance for single-industry towns in Canada that have been hard hit by job losses and that have not shared in the wealth of employment that the Canadian economy continues to create, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said Friday.

In the past (including Tories), this meant expansion of the EI program or some ‘transitional’ funds that were spent to try and get companies to set up in the communities. Sort of like Shawn Graham’s recent announcement in the Miramichi of more money and a ‘seek and find’ resource person.

In many cases, not all, governments invested in bad projects because they were willing to set up in town X or Y. Or they spent the money on consultants (cough, cough) and others in a fairly lavish way with little or no results.

So I think we should take a new approach. We should frame up the kinds of things that would need to happen to make Dalhousie, or Miramichi or Bathurst or where ever, attractive to industry – not just offering temporary and over the top incentives to get companies to go there.

What would it take to help Dalhousie leverage its port (as mentioned before), help Miramichi became a small hub of digital animation activity, help Bathurst became a bilingual e-Learning hub? What would it take to help Saint John become a green energy centre of excellence?

What changes to the education system? What physical infrastructure? What business attraction efforts? What business incubation efforts? What type of R&D activity? What legislation or regulation? What else?

Then I would invest in these activities and make a serious effort to build the environment for the province to have a successful 21st century economy.

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0 Responses to Ottawa may help dying company towns?

  1. Anonymous says:

    With all due respect to the hardship in these communities, perhaps the biggest challenge in all this is energizing the citizens of these communities to change. It is not adequate to put on your sorry face and play the “You’ve got to help us’ guilt game.

    It is time for some original ideas that have the potential to reshape the economic destiny of these communities to orginate from the community itself. Afterall, if a new initiative is going to work, the people of the community have to beleive in it and have the passion for it else it is doomed for failure. [Clarification: bailing out a dying industry or expanding EI benefits or bitching that Moncton got something so they should is not an original idea.]

    You’ve put up some interesting possiblities. I’d support my tax dollars going to support the generation of more ideas like these and securing community involvement in the effort. Maybe they should meet with leaders of some near by success stories like Summerside PEI who’s entire economy depended on the air base that was closed. Once a strategy that appears to have merit and substantial support is developed, then committ the dollars to execute the initiative, the deal being no more BS ‘help’ (i.e. vote buying) in the form of tourism support, roads etc.

    If the gravy train of handouts with no real meaningful strategy continues, we are creating the Cape Breton of NB.

  2. David Campbell says:

    That is a worthy post. I tell all the communities I work with that the buck stops with them and the citizens in those communities.

  3. mikel says:

    The problem is that the buck DOESN”T stop with them and people know it. Again, go read Daniel Savoie. Municipalities can have the best intentions, but if they get overridden by the provincial govenrment then whats the point? To point to an old example, a fishermans co op is still waiting on some money to set up an inshore scallop fishery. Scallops are one of the highest profit margins of all seafood, and that industry has some of the most value added programs going on anywhere.

    But provincial and federal contributions have been nil. They can’t even get media coverage. Now I know you guys are all for animation and high technology and don’t think anything can come of ‘old’ products, but thats far from true.

    And of course municipalities are barely getting by and can’t get squat from the province. Again, go look at your natural gas setup in Sussex where they wanted to use the gas locally to power their industrial park-no way says the province and now their industrial park has all the incentives of, well, every other of the thousands of municipalities.

    Plus, municipalities have almost zero power. Most have built industrial parks of some sort, and have the space, even the workers. So what exactly do you want? What do you expect them to do when they have no control over taxation (even municipal taxation), education, their health care services etc., etc. The buck DOESN”T stop at municipalities, it stops in Fredericton. There are a few nominal moves they can make, but thats pretty much it.

  4. David Campbell says:

    Actually, Mikel, you are correct. My use of the term ‘buck’ was mis-applied. My point, however; is still valid. What I was trying to say is that the only level of government uniquely and exclusively interested in Minto, for example, is the Minto municipal government. The provincial government has some interest and the federal government has almost no interest. So, if change is going to happen, municipalities need to apply whatever leverage they can, use whatever resources they can to make it happen.

  5. nbt says:

    That is a worthy post. I tell all the communities I work with that the buck stops with them and the citizens in those communities.

    I think you make a great point above, David. Which is why I feel it is vital that we reform out democratic institution so that when people are engaged into the process, their voice will not become silenced due to an oversized, unresponsive centralized government.