Fred Morley and the ‘Chi

I hope they learn from this guy.

The Greater Halifax Partnership’s Fred Morley was in town at the invitation of the Miramichi Community Action Committee, a group mandated by the government to find ways to help the Miramichi pull itself out of its recent economic hardship.His organization,the Greater Halifax Partnership, helps create links between businesses, government and the community to retain and expand existing businesses in the Halifax region, as well as attract new investment. Halifax managed to recover from a slump brought on by the loss of thousands of government jobs, and it was hoped that Morley might share some wisdom that would give the struggling Miramichi a boost. Morley thought the same methods that worked in Halifax would work in Miramichi. By organizing themselves, deciding on a common goal and identifying and making use of all available resources, he said, the region could take control of its economic destiny and lead its own recovery.

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0 Responses to Fred Morley and the ‘Chi

  1. richard says:

    Right! Let see now what Morley would really recommend:
    1. find gas/oil in Miramichi Bay
    2. find gas/oil in Miramichi Bay
    3. find gas/oil in Miramichi Bay

    Not to be cynical but the success of Halifax has nothing to do with community networking or Morley. It all has to do with energy development; something I do not believe Morley had anything to do with (unless he is much much older than he seems!).

    Miramichi’s job is much harder than Halifax’s.

  2. mikel says:

    Richard has a point…to a point. Energy certainly had a lot to do with it, but so did the other things he mentioned. Everything political, even economics, comes down to organization. The only part I wouldn’t agree with is that he basically says to ignore the government, however, the best way to involve the community is through government, not through, as he says, ‘professional associations’.

    You can do that but you only get a very small slice of the community, although from a business point of view that’s all that matters.

    But David has documented the many cases of financial services as they come through the pike. No doubt many of them are helped by the energy business, but certainly not all.

    It’s true that Miramichi’s job is MUCH harder, on a much different level than Halifax’s, since Miramichi really has no ‘strategic importance’ to the New Brunswick economy, unlike Halifax which pretty much anchors the whole province.

  3. nbt says:

    Your blog posts on commuting (or lack thereof) in NB came to mind when I watched this Youtube video. :)

    And NBers think they have it bad when they commute (without any traffic at rush hour I might add) to and from Moncton. Pleeeeaaaaaaaaassssse.

  4. richard says:

    Once a community starts to grow quickly (for whatever reason), it gets that ‘vibe’ that attracts people and business. People see opportunity. What shape was Halifax in prior to offshore oil/gas? Yes, it was growing, but mainly the way that Fred and Moncton ‘grow” – benefiting from the shutdown of rural economies.

    It was energy that turned Halifax into a ‘winner’. Perhaps the city has done a good job of managing that growth, but what did Morley have to do with that? Frankly, 90% of these development consultants are full of crap. If you can find me a consultant who has taken 10 places like Miramichi and turned them around, I’ll listen; otherwise, no thanks.

  5. Anonymous says:

    There is general agreement and loads of examples that energy leads to wealth.

    So,we don’t have oil (at least not yet).

    We have the world’s highest tides and could be a global leader in tidal energy technology.

    We have the opportunity to be the first installation of advanced CANDU technology, a world leader in efficiency and safety. We could have the associated design,construction and operational technology spinoffs and export those capabilities.

    We have uranium deposits. There is historic trouble with them. Let’s become a world leader in environmentally conscious uranium mining.

    We have coal; the world’s dirtiest. Let”s become a global leader in energy extraction from coal while minimizing environmental impact (if we can do this, we unlock the secrets of a 100 year global energy supply).

    Off the top of my head, there is 4 technology areas we could invest in that could change the face of the NB economy for the next century. Why can’t we focus efforts and study/invest/support these type of develpments rather than pissing away what little economic development money we have on things like a $60M Caisse bailout and $100M RDC funds that are used for vote buying?

  6. richard says:

    “We have the world’s highest tides and could be a global leader in tidal energy technology.”

    Coulda, woulda, shoulda.

    One of the reasons we lag in energy research and do not get much bang from our forestry resource is that we do not invest in research, nor do we insist that UNB (NB’s flagship university) take a lead in those areas. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, UNB is not doing its job – it produces far too many lawyers and not enough scientists/engineers. UNB is cutting back on forestry when it should be ramping things up. Biomass extraction, biochar, alternative end uses; we have a huge resource that is under-exploited and now managed to serve Irving rather than the province.

    Science and engineering research can be a job engine. Graham should be demanding that UNB make some ‘transformations’ or find a way to replace the current UNB prez with someone who will.

  7. mikel says:

    There is a lot to be said for a ‘vibe’. Economies can be like life, very tricky and often lucky-they can start rolling with any number of means. That’s why the government DOESN”T do as David suggests and play up bad economic statistics. They handle that in their daily speeches.

    I’ll mention again the case of Vermont, where an entire sector of the economy benefitted because the CEO of IBM liked skiing in Vermont. Again I’ll recommend that book, damn, now I forget the name, anyway, in the US THE most popular reason for movement of head offices had ZERO to do with incentives and economic reasons but with the desires of their CEO’s and executives to not want to commute. Something like half of head office movements were to the area where the new CEO lived.

    People have to realize that we now live in an age where governments have very little power-actually, OUR governments have very little power (for way to many reasons to get into here). That’s why they spend so much time ‘talking hype’. All it takes is a few people believing it and anything can happen. Again, Waterloo’s ‘revitalization’ came about primarily because of two guys, and Waterloo is probably Canada’s poster child of economic development (and believe me, its not all its cracked up to be).

    Economic developers are essential, just David’s blog has had more good ideas than the Irving rags have in years. People also tend to forget that there are theories and lobbying behind political decisions, but when the lobbying has as much power as in NB, then theories don’t get a chance to be implemented, which is why its a waste of time to be talking about economic theories and political economy.

    As for the above, that’s an IDEAL scenario that really has no basis in reality. The environment and energy production rarely go hand in hand, and certainly never do in New Brunswick. This is a province where the lowest common denominator applies to virtually every deal.

    Take the oil refinery. No doubt the province will be ponying up dough, thats a given. No doubt that technology will be a large part of the new oil refinery, it will be ‘state of the art’-at least as far as oil refineries go. Mainly because the more technology there is, the fewer workers are necessary and we KNOW that Irving doesn’t like workers.

    There will be technology to ‘minimize’ pollution, because the government will be helping pay for that, but the buck will always stop at what is cost effective, NOT what is ‘best for New Brunswickers’-since of course what MAY be best is not to have an oil refinery in the first place which isn’t even an option that anybody is talking about.

    The same goes for nuclear and a lesser extent coal. Energy can build an economy, as long as that energy is profitable, which nuclear, coal, and refining are not. Refining is VERY profitable for Irvings, but again, NB benefits very little from that.

    There is any number of ways that communities can grow. Unfortunately, communities have very little POWER to grow. As we’ve discussed before, the issue is a political one. In the US municipalities can even set sales tax rates. So if miramichi wanted a certain type of growth, they can use taxation as leverage. In canada municipalities have very little power, so all they can do is HOPE their ideas jive with Fredericton and Ottawa, which makes the whole process that much more difficult when you don’t have basic democratic powers to initiate economic development. You just have to hope you’ll strike oil, or breed the right kind of millionaire entrepreneur who has that ‘home spirit’.

  8. mikel says:

    Richard always has a good point, but there is little UNB can do about enrollments which have been decreasing steadily, particularly in science.

    That’s something that needs the government, because it involves grades 1 right through to university. Our society is very poor at science, which has bad repercussions all over the place.

    If there are specific problems with UNB then I’d be willing to join in the criticism, but they DO do scientific research, the problem is always where the funding goes, and much of that is federal, not provincial.

    And funding is a HUGE issue in the sciences. Canada seriously lags in R&D and very little of it is actually public, and NEW research takes serious dollars, and no guarantees of results. So again, that’s government, not the university leaders.

  9. richard says:

    “but there is little UNB can do about enrollments which have been decreasing steadily, particularly in science.”

    That ain’t the issue. See my previous post. Enrolment decline is why UNB is cutting back in certain key sectors. That is a mistake. They are doing that because of the mantra that
    says UNB will succeed by being a ‘comprehensive’ university. Cleary that approach is a failure; one that leaves NB with a mediocre university when we need a strong one.

    UNB is supported by our tax dollars and therefore UNB should be doing what we want it to do. NB does not have a strong science research university and that should be UNB’s role. A strong research university is vital to the innovation that NB needs.

    My position is that UNB should jettison some areas and transfer those resources into science research. That will mean laying off staff in some areas and hiring in others. Sorry, but the Bhutan lovers will have to work somewhere else.

    UNB should up the pressure on research staff to produce. And yes, they need to get the feds and NB to put in more research dollars, but those dollars won’t help much until the UNB admin is changed to reflect the priority of scientific reearch and engineering. To hell with enrolment.

  10. mikel says:

    We’ve had that conversation before, but their is no reason to believe that YOUR view is the predominant view in NB. It MAY be, but we don’t know, just like we don’t know much about what is going on at UNB. I do research on research, and their is a fair bit of research that goes on their, however, for medical science a lot goes on at the U of Moncton. For environmental science a lot goes on at Mount A, a lot more per capita than goes on at UNB.

    However, there’s a false analogy there. Say you cut the sociology department. For sociology all you need is a teachers salary-you don’t need equipment, you don’t need much capital investment. That’s pretty obvious, in fact you can look aroudn the country and most universities put NO resources into the arts. I have friends who did Masters work at Wilfrid Laurier, another of the ‘ten best’, and they didn’t even have audio visual equipment and got booted out of rooms regularly by the business faculty.

    But if you CANCEL that program, you lose all those paying students. Those students don’t say “well, they dont offer sociology so I guess I’ll take biology”. They go to a different school, and the university loses that money.

    But there can definitely be a conversation about the specifics of what the university does-but again that’s partly the media’s fault. UNB has a ‘think tank’, it’s the Rivers Institute. The problem is they can’t get much funding for obvious reasons, and their research is virtually never publicized, again for obvious reasons. St. Thomas has a human rights institute, but again, they get little community support and the city and university essentially function as two different non connecting entitities.

    But here’s another example from Waterloo, the CIGI institute, (canadian innovation in government institute) grew from a guy in a corner office to being a huge building in downtown waterloo. They were helped by the local billionaire, but as I’ve said before, NB has TWO billionaire families who keep their money offshore-if they don’t spread it around, then TAKE it from them.

    The city helps by basically giving away buildings in the downtown, most of which are old industrial buildings that never get used anyway.

    And there is a strong community connection. The Perimeter Institute in Quantum Physics has public speakers ALL the time, Brian Eno was here last fall. At CIGI they are even more proactive and ALL their research is ‘public domain’, one of the first think tanks to offer their research to anyone with no strings attached, and now they are expanding to New York within a UN department.

    So innovation can happen ANYWHERE, but again, we are not talking about ‘free markets’, because contrary to what people are told, innovation doesn’t come from free markets, just spend a little time researching the pharmaceutical industry to see that.

    The problem is that nobody is pushing any of this. People tend to think that just because people protest in St. John because they think their educational institution is going to get worse, that they don’t want to see it get better. The problem, as always, is a political one-without political pressure institutions do not respond (in fact CAN”T respond, obviously). In Fredericton its even worse, you have the university going to great lengths to piss off a sizeable population by selling off land to developers.

    But I don’t know HOW you politicize a university, I’ve never seen it done. I’d be interested to see HOW its done. Again, take Sudbury which decided it wanted a medical school. The community got together with the university, which went to the levels of government and got a cost sharing program to build a medical school. Why Fredericton, which seems to have money to piss away on any number of retarded projects has never gotten a group together to meet with the university, who PROBABLY would LOVE a medical school, is beyond me. Why the university has never started one is beyond me, but they may figure its easier to update the nursing program. Maybe it IS just that lack of entrepreneurial spirit. But contrary to a post here somewhere, the Universite de Moncton has a ‘branch’ of Dalhousie’s medical school, and the ‘same thing’ didnt’ go to St. John or Fredericton or the north, in fact it was never even made into an issue, even in the media which loves playing off the cities against one another.

    It takes people to get these things going, and that ‘entrepreneurial spirit’ can be felt in bureaucracies as much as in the ‘free market’. If it doesn’t happen, its simply because nobody wants it bad enough. Sorry that’s so long.

  11. Anonymous says:

    As a small university, if UNB has any presence on the national/international research stage, it would be in the science and engineering area and that is trending in the right direction with strong growth in the value of research over the past 5 years.

    If we want to increase the rate of growth in our science research it is not so much with the government dollar value we are investing but may have more to do with the efficiency of the spend. For example, to attract more business investment, we need to look at IP policy models like US universities and some Canadian universities. (What business wants to pay for research that a university professor will end up owning?) We need to look at incentives and recognition of professors that attract private research dollars. ( i.e. the guys that attract serious research monies are recognized and rewarded, the guys that don’t are ‘on the bubble’) We need to be a little hungrier so there is a sense of urgency in attracting research money and delivering good value for money. (nothing needs to be said, just take a drive through campus between May and August and checkout the sense of urgency) There needs to be better leveraging of the government money. (Sure, offer them more but look for a multiplier target, like 4X what the Province hands over). These are the sorts of things that need a look before digging deeper in our pockets.

    UNB can be a bigger research player but there is homework to be done before writing them a blank cheque.

  12. richard says:

    Mikel,

    Reread my posts, and learn to spell.

    Unlike you, I have over 25 years experience in actually doing science reearch, in academic and government labs. You appear to have been well-trained in rhetoric but not much else.

    UNB is not giving NB what NB needs. Heads should roll. They don’t need billionaires, they do need a kick in the ass.

  13. mikel says:

    That’s not really an argument, so there isn’t anything there to debate. A person can say they are anything or anybody on a blog and there is no way of knowing. If there is that much experience there it certainly doesn’t show in the posts. Some specifics would be helpful.

    As for the post above that actually has some content, private investment is very much at the heart of the matter. Part of the problem at many universities is that you can’t get any kind of position without your own investment. That tends to have short term investment opportunities, but few long term ones.

    As opposed to what Richard thinks, the evidence proves otherwise. Waterloo is well known as having the best universities with the most investment. Virtually ALL of that growth has been spearheaded by the billionaires at RIM. David may be interested in this as he said he’s become a listener of the Council on Foreign Relations, well, the local billionaire now has put in money and is starting up a canadian version.

    I can name three scientific companies that are bankrolled by the Forbes and several other american billionaires. Who do you think provides investment? The unemployed?

    But Richard should practise what he preaches and read MY post. There may well be very specific policies that are resulting in less efficient R&D. If Richard wants to get off his high horse and give some specifics, then maybe something constructive can come out of it.