Aw, Look at PEI, All Growed Up

I must have missed this press release in all the hullabaloo around my quitting a job and starting out on my own.

A regional manufacturing facility will be established in Pooles Corner, thanks to a combined investment by the Government of Canada and the Government of Prince Edward Island.
Gerald Keddy, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) and the Honourable Robert Ghiz, Premier of PEI, today announced an the investment of $3.3 million to support the purchase and renovation of an 80,000 square-foot facility in Pooles Corner. Manufacturing has been identified as a priority area for both levels of government. “This project is a great example of government and community partnering to create sustainable employment and attract investment to rural Prince Edward Island,” said Mr. Keddy. “This new centre will help PEI seize the significant opportunities that exist within the advanced manufacturing sector.” Through its Innovative Communities Fund, ACOA will provide $2.3 million to Active Communities Development Inc. to establish the regional manufacturing facility. This infrastructure, coupled with a skilled local labour force and the world-class welding training institute at Holland College Georgetown Centre, will help attract advanced manufacturing companies to PEI. This centre will be owned and managed by Active Communities Development Inc.

Now, this is interesting. I know that some will detest it saying the government shouldn’t be in the building buildings business. It’s been tried and failed in a number of places before.

But look at the context in 2008. I continue to hammer the point that communities need to hone their value proposition for business investment attraction. This new facility, linked into an training institute at Holland College, coupled with a solid track record already of attracting aerospace firms, should position PEI to attract more.

And for those of you Holier-than-thouers that decry government money spent like this – think about the hundreds of millions on seasonal EI every year in rural PEI. Spent directly as an income supplement from government to people. Would you rather have government funds directed smartly at attracting good paying, year round jobs or would you rather than just give up and continue to subsidize thousands of people through seasonal EI payments?

Giddy Up. I like what I am seeing from PEI these days. The animation sector is growing. The biosciences sector is growing. The aerospace sector is growing. Cripes. Animation. On PEI? Who’d a thunk it 20 years ago?

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

0 Responses to Aw, Look at PEI, All Growed Up

  1. nbt says:

    “This project is a great example of government and community partnering to create sustainable employment and attract investment to rural Prince Edward Island,” said Mr. Keddy.

    Sustainable employment in rural PEI? By ACOA? Huh? I suppose ACOA was worried about sustainable employment when they opened up Atlantic Beef Products Inc. in Albany, P.E.I.

    The fledgling beef processing plant is said to be losing $1 million a month and not one job has been cut since it’s opening in 2004. How’s that for sustainability? More like a waste of taxpayers money.

    Not to mention, ACOA was involved initially with Cape Jourimain Nature Centre Inc. (just across the Confederation Bridge) in rural NB. How did that venture work out? Well, just last summer they threatened to close their doors if they didn’t receive more government assistance because they weren’t making any money whatsoever. Again, not one job was cut (to reduce costs), but more of our money flowed into the centre. How’s that for sustainability? Do I need to answer that.

    So if you ask me “do I like what I am seeing from PEI these days?” My answer would have to be “Absolutely NOT”, because it is more of the same under a different banner. And we all know where that story ends. Continued outmigration, uncompetitiveness and still dependent on the feds to make a go of it. Not exactly innovative or sustainable, David.

  2. David Campbell says:

    Okay, but your comments feed into another stream of my thought – that governments shouldn’t be investing in bad business models. If you build infrastructure (and yes a building is infrastructure) and that adds to the value proposition and garners the interest of a serious, good company with a sustainable business model, then that is a good thing. The problem is when governments start funding questionable business models in the name of ‘rural development’.

  3. nbt says:

    If you build infrastructure (and yes a building is infrastructure) and that adds to the value proposition and garners the interest of a serious, good company with a sustainable business model, then that is a good thing. The problem is when governments start funding questionable business models in the name of ‘rural development’.

    Trouble is that these ventures are never funded with sustainability in mind David…more like re-election in mind.

    Plus, bureaucrats and politicians do a poor job of picking winners in the business community, it always seems like the pattern behind regional development agencies, like ACOA, is to move jobs into a declining region before an election (without measuring other factors which contribute to its economic downfall over time), so that the photo op will produce more votes for the government and MP in that riding. In other words, they never seriously look at the longterm feasibility of the project or development they lure in with our money. Mostly, because it’s not their money they’re risking so it’s easy to make poor decisions when your not fully accountable.

    And we’ve seen the wave of poor results as a result of this development formula.

    Here’s a good report regarding the negative politics (and partisan trends) behind corporate welfare and regional develpment agencies in Atlantic Canada, like ACOA.

    Anyway, I’m with McKenna on this one:

    “Atlantic Canada is at a fork in the road. We may continue down the traditional path of reliance on the Government of Canada which has created such a devastating legacy of dependency or, alternatively, we can embark on a new road towards self-sufficiency.

    To me it is now manifest that the old ways do not work. All Atlantic Canadians know how dependent we have become on the support of others. … We also know that grants and make-work programs have created distortions in the natural economy – distortions that require redress. … we need to stop simply giving grants or subsidies to businesses to come here or to businesses already in the region.

    We need to find a better tool. We need to find a tool that will be long-term and durable, that will be sustainable.

    Looking at experience from all over the world, I can tell you that those jurisdictions which establish low and predictable corporate tax regimes end up resulting in much better growth, and long-term growth, and a much better environment for business to prosper.”

    I conquer.

  4. Anonymous says:

    David, you missed the growing alternate energy sector which would complete the forth targeted sector of the Island Prosperity Project.

    The plan has focus, funding and KPIs. Another interesting aspect; innovation is industry led.

  5. mikel says:

    That’s where this is simply a question of ideology. Government has invested in tons of ‘winners’ as well, but to NBT’s mind that is irrelevant. You can tell that simply by the comparison of ACOA investments in ventures where he thinks they’ve failed.

    So let’s analyze that. Atlantic Beef may be losing money, but as said, no jobs have been lost. Once that is gone, the entire PROCESSING industry is gone. NBT doesn’t care, of course he’s not in the agriculture business. Alberta ‘lost control’ of all its meat processing which ended up costing canadians BILLIONS. Factor THAT in.

    A nature centre OF COURSE won’t make money, that’s why there are things called ‘provincial parks’. Hell, in New Brunswick Algonquin, the most tourist friendly part of the province can’t run without government money.

    NBT never remembers to mention the RESULTS of his favourite plan. Which is impoverishment far greater than currently exists. He THINKS that somehow if people follow his advice companies will flock there. Unfortunately, that’s a big ‘if’ for which there is zero evidence.

    By that thinking about ACOA Irving should never invest in a new venture because one time (actually a few) they invested in one that didn’t work. ACOA, of course, is not looking for ‘investments’, as said it is POLITICAL-that means they are interested in JOBS. THAT is the political angle.

    PEI is absolutely a success story. NB has virtually NONE of that-at least that we hear. However, Fatkat got money, fatkat is a success. Measure NBT’s tirade against Fatkat announcing a move to Summerside or Halifax and see how much ‘ideology’ weighs in in matters of reality.

  6. richard says:

    “Anyway, I’m with McKenna on this one: ..”

    Isn’t there a quote somewhere..’by their works ye shall know them..’?

    McKenna was mainly smoke and mirrors when Premier. There is really no reason to listen to him now. He had his chance.

    ” I can tell you that those jurisdictions which establish low and predictable corporate tax regimes end up resulting in much better growth,”

    He can TELL us whatever, but can he prove it? Where’s the data?

    PEI is taking the ball and running with it, and they are off to a good start.

  7. nbt says:

    NBT never remembers to mention the RESULTS of his favourite plan. Which is impoverishment far greater than currently exists.

    I reject your assertion, mikel. I’ve been up front (and always on point). Instead of advocating for corporate welfare for large multi-nationals on a daily basis, you can find me sticking up for the little guy — the mom and pop store who has made steady profits for 30 years, the hardworking couple who opened a small business with their last pennies and a bank loan and not via a government grant, the new immigrant whose store is showing growth through grit, smarts and determination, not through government handouts — just to name a few.

    Those are the people who have never been given a chance in this province, mainly because they’ve been getting gouged hard, not to mention, a good portion of their profit goes to the businesses, like Fatkat, Atlantic Yarns, Rogers Inc., Atcon, who have established a line on government handouts.

    So forgive me if I don’t get all pumped up over the one or two propped up success stories. I think McKenna’s words are worth repeating when he said, “grants and make-work programs have created distortions in the natural economy – distortions that require redress. … we need to stop simply giving grants or subsidies to businesses to come here or to businesses already in the region.”

    A natural economy, which I’m starting to get the impression, you don’t truly understand.

  8. mikel says:

    What we know is that WITHOUT the grants, bursaries, loans, etc., there is simply NO industry. Then there are no mom and pops because there are no industries to support them.

    There is no such thing as a ‘natural economy’, you don’t understand much economics if you don’t even understand that basic fact. An economy is a man made creation, based on political decisions.

    Take for example Irving demanding a loan for its forestry company. While its nice to be an idealist and say Irving shouldn’t get a loan, the REALITY is that should they move to Quebec there is an entire industry lost. That’s all the mill jobs and spinoff jobs.

    That’s what I mean about ignoring the results. The reality is that its a corporate run world-no handouts, guess what, no industry. And most NBers don’t post here, but everybody KNOWS this stuff, because New Brunswick has tons of areas where there are simply no industries.

    Every person that takes Arts or film at school knows that NB ‘doesn’t play the game’, and guess what, thats why every NBer in those industries has to LEAVE.

    So yes, they can do as NBT suggests, and feel like their tax dollars are being saved, all while their kids are moving elsewhere to work-the whole reason why Mr. Campbell started this blog.

    So, no, nobody forgives you for not being pumped up by success stories. People have jobs, good jobs, industries are being built that keep PEIers close to home. There may be details that aren’t out, but a seeming success is far better than nothing.

    McKenna, of course, was one of the kings of the ‘make work’ projects. Hell, the guy sits on Boards of Directors, anybody that knows anything about corporations knows that a member of a Board of Directors is virtually the very definition of a ‘make work’ project.

    What McKenna doesn’t want to see is investments that actually create opportunities for WORKERS, as opposed to owners. Like AIMS he’s got no problem giving massive handouts to Irving and the transportation industry, the buck always stops at decent jobs.

    But I tend to agree, it IS those hard working workers and entrepreneurs (I don’t tend to think that people’s lives are worth more simply because they happen to own a store) who are getting gouged.

    Not because of the reasons given above, but because while their ‘tax freedom day’ is in April (or June, depending whose data you like), the tax freedom day of corporations in Canada comes before the end of January.

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with government investing in business. Sometimes the choices, and the way they are chosen are suspect. However, imagine how successful NB would be if even a tiny bit of the ‘energy industry’ BS they pump out were put into industries that actually have a possibility of good long term jobs.

    If you want to look at the results of no government intervention, just go look at the fabulous results of NB’s film industry. It gets almost nothing, and the result has been…almost nothing. So much for ‘private enterprise’. And thats’ even though film equipment is now dirt cheap and the internet offers practically free distribution.