Savoie on the warpath


Business New Brunswick must slash its permanent staff and axe salaries in order for the province to gain a competitive edge, according to a leading Université de Moncton public policy guru. The department should light a fire under employees by adopting a commission-based approach linked to measurable gains in economic growth, Donald Savoie told the Telegraph-Journal in a recent editorial board meeting. Under that model, the more jobs a Business New Brunswick employee brings in, the more money he or she earns. A failure to generate jobs means a big, fat zero.

I haven’t had a lot of direct interaction with Business New Brunswick in recent years, but when I did there were at least some there that would have liked this kind of thinking. They would say they need the right structure, toolkit and remuneration package. It is easy to turn an economic development department into a ‘policy’ shop that helps small business and writes the occassional brochure. However, a lean and mean sales agency promoting New Brunswick to the four corners of the world is a far tougher proposition. You need to hire top sales persons, top marketers, product/program development specialists, etc. and then you need to have a structure that doesn’t impede their ability to get the job done.

I hope Savoie’s comments are well received but……

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0 Responses to Savoie on the warpath

  1. mikel says:

    Wow, warpath indeed. And Savoie used to be the NICE economic developer! But to again quote a familiar line, its not the workers, its the policies that are the problem.

    What an interesting perspective, since the private sector, which has more money than it EVER has, refuses to pay decent wages, the government should drop its wages in order to ‘compete’.

    However, there is an ideological bias there that says that says the private market is more ‘creative’ than the public, and that’s not always, or even the majority of time, true. How much innovation has there been since Bell was privatized? NBTel was noted for their innovations, Aliant and Bell, well, lets’ just say ‘not’.

    We’ve been through this before, it MAY be true that BNB are just sitting on their hands, we don’t know, but far more likely it is because NB doles out new growht based on the corporate welfare package, rather than tying them to jobs.

    And of course if you are selling a lemon, sometimes you have to face the facts that its a lemon. YOu can have as high a priced salesman as you can afford, but as the customers are more educated and will ALWAYS know more about cars, people will always recognize it as a lemon.

    As David has said before, what you need to do is change the POLICIES. Let’s take an example, it’s now been almost a year since Nova Scotia slashed its tax and royalty structure for the film and television industry, while the NB government said it was ‘working on it’, there still has been nothing. They threw a few dollars at FatKat and figured they did their job. And that is not the job of BNB.

    In the case of RIM it’s a good example, no doubt civil servants fall in line behind their governments-when the minister said NB ‘couldn’t compete’ to get RIM anyway, I wouldn’t be surprised if BNB said ‘why bother trying’.

    This government at least has been publicly saying something else. In the case of RIM, the company said it became interested because Nova Scotia approached them, but you can read the article online and see that that is NOT why they decided to go with them. The financial package was part of it, but every government is going to offer that, but so was the fact that NS invests heavily in education and technology, something which is a passion of both the owners of the company, who of course get the final say so.

    It MAY be true that these guys show up for work and do nothing, we don’t know that, but assuming that BECAUSE they are well paid then by definition they DON”T work hard is pretty lousy academic scholarship, maybe Savoie is starting to lose it in his old age. Come to think of it, HE gets a pretty good salary, so I guess by that reasoning HE doesn’t work very hard and ought to get paid by commission. I know of quite a few of the policies he has advanced in the past and haven’t seen many of them adopted, so he’d be eating pretty lean.

  2. nbt says:

    LOL! Please guys. This is just rhetoric. [Savoie] is as much a Thatcher libertarian (advocating smaller government) as David is a Hayekian tax cutter.

    Although, with the company they both keep, even a mention of this stuff gets their statist friends in a tizzy.

  3. richard says:

    “NS invests heavily in education and technology”

    Heavily compared to whom? NB? That might be correct, but doubful if NS outperforms a number of other provinces on that score.

    The relative cost of building a plant and running it, plus the lifestyle attractions and closeness of a major urban centre (Halifax), might have been more important, regardless of what anyone says in print.

    Why didn’t NB pursue them? Probably had not a clue RIM was looking, due to the need to satisfy the everyday concerns of the Irvings and McCains.

    If you have a good job, there are few better places to live than NB. How big do these guys push lifestyle when they are out there beatin’ the bushes?

  4. Anonymous says:

    I’d find that link if it were worth it, however, you can do a search for RIM and Nova Scotia and probably find it. The Halifax area has SIX universities, so ‘no’, no other province or capital comes even close to that.

    The province certainly put money into it, but like I said, every government is going to put money into a company like RIM if it is going to set up locally. In the article they were looking internationally, but liked what Nova Scotia was saying.

    And yes, the New Brunswick guys probably had no idea they were looking, but of course that is their job, so we don’t know what they were thinking. RIM is a special case though, in fact its probably a singular case in the entire country. Not a lot of companies like that are looking at expansion in Canada, as we see with the meagre new call centre.

    But like Richard says, we don’t know what they are pitching, ‘lifestyle’ doesn’t cut it, I’ve got news, I can drive two hours north and find pretty much identical ‘lifestyle’ attributes.

    There’s no doubt that some investigating should be done on how many people are actually in the department and what they are doing. The miramichi deal looks more like it was put together by the company than by the government, and the potash deal couldn’t be negotiated by bureaucrats.

    But until some actual policies come out of fredericton, its still that lemon. Now with the dollar worth the same as the greenback, nobody in their right mind is going to look at canada with its refineries and pulp mills-have you ever been to Vermont? It’s gorgeous, and you are just a few hours away from giant markets.