I like this new strategy – it is clear in its objectives and I think the opportunities identified have merit – the real challenge will be marshalling the resources needed to get it done.
There are a couple of very surprising weak spots. The first is the strategy doesn’t mention anything about urban Northern NB and all of the targeted sectors are really about rural areas in the North – with the possible exception of tourism. Of course, the authors of the plan will say that rural success will have urban benefits but I think they really missed the boat on this issue. Northern New Brunswick needs to have strong (albeit small) urban areas.
The second weak spot is there is not a single industry mentioned herein that is in the white collar/professional economy of the 21st century. We can’t just give up on this – it’s tied to the urban strategy mentioned above. Don’t get me wrong, I think the primary potential is in manufacturing and resources sectors and it is true that I have preached focus, focus, focus for years but something tells me that there are some niche opportunities that could be exploited for economic development.
Take this line from page 8 of the report – “bilingualism is one of the great strengths in attracting business to the region”. I realize people like to use this as a throw in but sometimes we have to think through what we say.
If bilingualism is a ‘great’ strength (and I believe it to be true) why aren’t we targeting opportunities that leverage it?
But on the whole this could be a giant leap forward for the North.