The TJ has an editorial today recommending we push New Brunswick’s IT advantage.
I guess I am getting old and cynical but I think we need to define what we want from a statement like that.
I’m thinking back to the launch of eNB (remember that?). Premier Lord got up and said this initiative would be the catalyst for the growth of the IT industry. It would ensure that all New Brunswickers get to take advantage of the Information Highway (or something to that effect).
A few months after launch I had coffee with one of the guys involved with eNB. He told me it had no mandate and no money. It fizzled out after a couple of years and nobody cared one way or the other.
Having a strong telecom infrastructure is fine but it is, as the editorial states, what you do with it that matters.
I worry with government that they think the journey is the destination. Build a highway, invest in telecom infrastructure, etc. and make sure you mention in the press release these two words “economic development”. But without strategies to directly foster economic development you may as well work in these two words “white elephant”.
The Moncton-Fredericton four lane highway was laced with talk of “economic development”. It seems to me there are less trucks on that road these days than ever. I haven’t seen the traffic counts but I do know from my research that traffic counts are down on the Cobequid Pass in Nova Scotia since the four lane.
There is no “build it and they will come” economic development. Not with IT infrastructure. Not with road infrastructure.
You need to set the table. You need to order the food. Then you need to invite the guests.