Groundhog day in Northern NB?

Somebody invoked that classic Bill Murray movie Groundhog Day yesterday in our conversation about the new northern NB strategy.  Just another plan, another credenza creature while Rome burns.

Obviously I have a tainted view here but I think this one could be different.  Ultimately these things are always about what you do with them is what matters.

But to paraphrase Captain Kirk’s son in Star Trek II – words matter – we need to have a starting point in order to move forward.

I do worry that the political imperative is not necessarily the bureaucrative imperative but that is exactly why the report I wrote talked about local leadership and a stronger mechanism for the North to take more direct control over its destiny.  Again, just words but words matter.

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3 Responses to Groundhog day in Northern NB?

  1. Paul says:

    I am with you on this one David. And Ground Hog Day may be an excellent example, because in that movie, the cycle was broken when Phil, instead of finding inventive ways to commit suicide, on Rita’s advice, decides to improve himself and instead of living a entirely cynical life, he made a conscious choice to improve himself and the cycle is ended.

    There are things in the report that are standard features of all these things, because if you don’t write them down, one or more of the truckload of mayors we have will complain you don’t support that thing, tourism for example. So you write it up.

    They support tourism, they do a lousy job of it, but they support it. Anyway, that’s not my point. My point is, you can find motherhood in every report anyone writes.

    There is a difference this time, and its on several levels. A real focus on a niche market with a quantifiable opportunity in modular construction. There are plenty or reasons why we could be very competitive in this type of market, it is on the ground floor, there is proud history of innovation in Northern New Brunswick, not well documented, but these mills and mines, and suppliers have long histories of innovation, and we have the workforce, and potential workforce to do it.

    There are measurable targets, and if they can hit a bunch of targets it might give people reason to believe success is possible, rather than be destroyed in public perception that the north is just a sinkhole for money, like the person you were talking to who thinks the plan is just another bookend.

    There is lots of stuff in it, but those are two I point to as way of example.

    “I do worry that the political imperative is not necessarily the bureaucrative imperative…” I couldn’t agree more, and I am happy you pointed it out. Like Dr. Phil always says,”you cannot fix a problem until you acknowledge it” (Did you ever think a Dr. Phil reference could be made in a blog on ED in NB?)

    As we know, the bureaucracy is where most of the difference will be made and traditionally there has been an unhelpful attitude, and the new BNB office in the North should help that. There is much confidence in the Deputy Minister and Minster and so there is reason to be hopeful, but I still have a genuine concern at a visceral level.

    I have advocated for years and years and years that they need to give people a more positive reflection of themselves. The media have done a lousy job at that, but have made improvements and continue to improve, so there is hope there.

    And words do matter, right now, they matter more than ever, as long as they are followed by action.

    At the end of the movie, Phil and Rita talk about living in Punxsutawney together, the very place he was trying to escape. Small place with nice people, and a great place to raise children. Let’s hope your guy is right, and it is like Groundhog Day.

  2. David Bonnell says:

    Ground Hog day indeed.

    I am no econ major but this has all the ear marks of yet another wasted attempt to create an economy in Northern NB. I feel for the folks that live up there but the gov’t cannot create an economy for them.

    The Gov’t can create an environment conducive for econ dvelopment (i.e tax free zones, a lower corporate tax rate to induce companies to set up shop there etc..). Throwing a few dollars here and there will lead to what we have seen so many time before – lots of money spread around with limited effect and even more political pork to the gov’t friends.

    If we are going to do something make it big and impactful.

    I wish there was a magic solution to fix Northern NB. Unfortunately thre is not.

    Writing a bunch of lg cheques will not do it. A new lawn mower for one of the golf courses up there will not create a new job.

    This whole exercise looks like a pre election move to allow the liberals to shore up some seats up north.

  3. mikel says:

    Come on David. What is Fredericton but a government created economy? Saint John’s economy got a HUGE boost when they build Point Lepreau there.
    They could create an economy in Campbellton tomorrow-build a veterinary college there. Put a dental school there, put a medical school there instead of St.John. I could go on.

    IF this report had come out the first year the liberals were in power then some of the cynicism could be questioned. But come on. A ‘focus’ on forestry? And I seem to recall years ago modular construction was ‘in vogue’, but if the US economy stays tanked, forget about it. Do you really think the New York market is down there lacking the modular components they need for construction?

    I’d hazard a guess that anybody with a pulse and a business plan can at least get somebody’s ear, so this talk about ‘focus’ is just meaningless. So does that mean if I show up in Campbellton and want to hire 50 animators for my project, and all I need is some payroll rebates the government will say “sorry, thats not our focus, would you like to do modular construction instead?” Sometimes ED talk is just a way to talk AROUND common sense.

    There are policy decisions the government can make right now. A company wants to build solar something at the mill in miramichi, no doubt they’ll get SOME kind of concessions from government (they certainly SHOULD). So you just say “fine, you’ll get X but in exchange you have to help fund and use research that will be done right in miramichi”. There’s your public policy that helps put investment in Miramichi-and I’ll bet thats a whole lot cheaper than what they paid consultants for the report.

    And again, that public policy so sorely lacking is to at least match Nova Scotia’s tax credits for film and animation and other cultural products. The main problem is that governments don’t really want to DO anything, they simply want to wait for somebody to show up.

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