On long term vision and high paying jobs

This story in the TJ is one that everyone should read.  It’s a story about the Saint John municipal plan back in the 1970s and the forecast that the area was going to boom driving population growth to a quarter of a million population. 

The article has multi-layered themes that each could be the subject of a blog.  The importance of the long term view, the criticality of large infrastructure such as a port to long term growth, the flight from the urban core to the suburbs, the lack of urban density, attempts to curtail suburb growth by draconian ideas versus making it attractive to live in the urban core (that whole carrot versus stick thing is going to be a central idea related to Saint John’s future, IMO).

I have spend a lot of time over the past few years studying NB’s economic development past.   I have read books -Savoie, Fredericks, etc. reviewed old Census data from the 1940s and 1950s and I have talked to some of the old geezers that still remember efforts to promote NB back in the 1960s and 1970s.   

The Saint John example is very instructive.  If Saint John met its forecast of 250k people, what would that have done to the province?  How much less relaint on Equalization would we be?  Would 18 years of net out-migration have turned to 18 years of net in-migration?    I have long said that a province needs one or more economic anchors that drive economic growth.  There are urban centres across North America that play such a role but New Brunswick doesn’t have a large urban area to do that.  According to the 1970s vision, Saint John could have played that role.

 

On an unrelated note, I see Microsoft has set up an other data centre in Iowa – a state with one of the lowest rates for industrial electricity in North America.  Note the salary level – $31/hour (with health care in I presume).   We’d settle for $30/hour in New Brunswick and throw in health care as a bonus.

“Iowa Gov. Chet Culver says the Microsoft Corporation plans to move forward with the construction of a modular datacenter in West Des Moines. Culver said Thursday that the $100 million facility is expected to be up and running by next spring. The Iowa Economic Development Board approved an award to Microsoft that will prove tax benefits from the High Quality Jobs program for the creation of 25 jobs. Microsoft says those jobs will pay an average wage plus benefits of $31.04 per hour. Culver says the technologically advanced facility will significantly reduce water, power and carbon wastes associated with traditional datacenter facilities. He says it will also enable a more efficient and higher utilization of computing capacity and productivity.”

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