I had a great chat with a guy that has been doing a fair amount of economic development work in Northern New Brunswick. We had a good laugh about the story of the high priced Toronto and Montreal consultants coming in and telling these northern communities that they have to ‘diversify’ their economies. That’s a side splitter.

Because essentially they are telling these communities not to rely on the large, anchor employers like the pulp mills and the smelters of the past. They argue for a bunch of smaller projects to ‘diversify’.

Bull crap. These companies stayed in the communities for decades. They were the economic pillars of the economy. We need more of these not less.

Without these economic anchors, the north is doomed. Mark my words. If we don’t find a way to reseed the next generation of Bowaters, UPMs, etc. the area will dry up.

And you don’t need a $250,000 Montreal consultant to tell you that.

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0 Responses to Diversification

  1. mikel says:

    Oh lord, hate to be ‘negative’, but that’s too much. At LEAST admit that more than ONE UPM or Bowater is preferential to just one ‘anchor’ company.

    I mean that’s so obvious they even have a cliche for it-don’t keep all your eggs in one basket. They stayed for decades, unfortunately, once they got what they wanted they left.

    And when they left we’ve seen what damage they cause. You are basically ‘lobbying’ for a return to the ‘company town’ of the 1800’s (or New Brunswick in the 1900’s). That’s an awfully big risk to hit the roulette table and say ‘we should put ALL our money on black 17’. Sure, it COULD pay off big time, but thats a big risk and in todays economic climate the odds are about the same as that roulette table.

    Would you say that Miramichi should be an ‘animation hub’ which by definition would mean that nobody takes anything but animation at school or pizza making to service animators?

    It makes sense to argue for an ‘anchor company’, but to tell a small town that when they”ve essentially just been wrecked by that very same economic development model to ‘try doing what happened to you 60 years ago’ seems pretty specious.

    I don’t read tons of stuff on economic development, but I certainly know that diversity is NEVER a ‘bad thing’.

  2. Gawain says:

    Recently I was in Indonesia and toured a 9500 hectare tree plantation populated by trees that grew year-round, were harvested by bespoke machinery manned by workers paid a fraction of the average NB forestry worker. This is the future of the forestry industry and the knowledge that underpins this can be bought anywhere. In fact, there were three expat NBers on the management team of this plantation, all with tech knowledge.

    The forestry industry is dead in NB. We just refuse to believe it, and still listen the pathetic cheerleader stories of politicians who don’t know what to do.

    The same can be said of the call center industry — a zombie sector where all the strategic decisions are made elsewhere.

    And the E-Learning industry? Hoping for life support from CFB Gagetown.

    And the animation industry? Never got off the ground despite the interest generated by one company out of the Miramichi.

    And BNB is sleepwalking even more now than under the previous do-nothing government, with half of its staff waiting for the next buyout.

    It’s no wonder why NB is so irrelevant in Ottawa. Our “major” claim to fame is the Serf Sufficiency strategy which would be the laughing stock of any other government.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Anchor industry would be a better description.

    We need it. Look at provincial economies that are thriving; they all have one. Look at countries that are prosperous; they all have an anchor industry.

    The arguement is not about if you need one or not; it is about if you want ED or not.

  4. mikel says:

    Anchor industries have nothing to do with it. What else can you call McCain and Irving? They have ‘anchored’ NB industries for decades. The mill in Atholville has always been an ‘anchor’, how much thriving is Campbellton doing?

    To look at aquaculture, Cooke is now the largest player, it ‘anchors’ the industry. How beneficial is it? They consolidated and closed production plants in NB, and have expanded R&D and production in Newfoundland.

  5. Anonymous says:

    How can you legitimately support economic development without some focus? We cannot be globally competitive in absolutely everything and continually dilute our efforts.

    A successful ED effort in NB must include some focus. Typically this involves an anchor industry of some sort; oil in Alberta, automotive in Ontario, aerospace in Quebec etc. If nothing else, it would help NB get a piece of the billions of federal dollars that have been flowing into other provincial ED efforts.

    If the success of focus of other provinces and countries is not convincing enough, take a read of the recent Conference Board publiction on the power of focus.