Row row row your (economic development) boat vigorously down the stream

Someone asked me if there was a subtext to my TJ column this week calling for all of our economic development organizations to  get in the boat and start rowing in the same direction.  I listed off a few and I definitely include industry groups and other private sector stakeholders.

It seems to me that decisions need to be made – future of the Enterprise agencies, future of NRC, new innovation agenda, etc. and we need to get on with it.    I hear a lot of talk about the feeling that  things are still in ‘limbo’ out there and that seems to me to be a problem.

Now is the time for intelligent economic development.  The feds and the province should come together and agree on an approach and how each one fits.  This is too small a province to do otherwise.  And we need to have strong local leadership around economic development.    Whatever is done with the Enterprise agencies it should lead to greater capacity and mobilization on the ground in the  communities.  Economic development occurs in communities – not in provinces.  As I have said before 95% of the decisions that need to be made around a new business investment are decisions related to the local community – operating cost structure, labour market, real estate, supply chain, etc.

In a small province you have to centralize things.   You couldn’t have an ‘Invest NB’ in every little community around New Brunswick.  You can’t have an Innovation Foundation in every community.  But you can have engaged local stakeholders and folks eager to build a stronger value proposition for investment.

You make hay while the sunshine but you plant the seeds in the spring.  It’s springtime in New Brunswick.

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4 Responses to Row row row your (economic development) boat vigorously down the stream

  1. mikel says:

    Dude, it really should have dawned on you by now. NOTHING political happens without external stimuli. With the possible exception of safety legislation. Does anybody here really think all these new gas regulations would have come down the pipe if there weren’t all the protest?

    If you want specific policies, ya gotta fight for them. Although this one seemed more of a cheerleader exercise. I mean, what does ‘we’ve got to centralize’ even mean? InvestNB is provincial, that sounds pretty ‘central’ to me. There are various ED groups around the province but surely you don’t mean they should shut down.

    I said before you should get politically involved, but I didn’t mean to just write blogs that sound like a politician. In virtually EVERY community you ALREADY have “folks eager to build a stronger value proposition for investment”-unless by that you mean “be on board for whatever crappy environmentally disgusting, low wage earning, get you off pogey ‘investment’ that comes along”

    Again, look at McAdam, a town hard hit with the forestry downturn. The first thing they did was proactively hire a consultant, and develop a plan for the community to engage in community forestry. All they wanted was access to what by rights is THEIR land. The province told them to suck eggs. So by ‘centralize’ does that mean ‘bend to all the whims of the provincial government’ which essentially exists to keep the license holders happy?

  2. I am eager at stimulating some local community level involvement here in my hometown of Miramichi. I am still working out the kinks, but it will be a 100% community involved cluster type program. Not only involving business and government officials, but just general citizens as well.

  3. Good luck. The ‘Chi seems to be booming these days (I was up there for a few days last week) but that is masking some serious underlying economic challenges for the region.

  4. Richard Reeleder says:

    ” The feds and the province should come together and agree on an approach and how each one fits.”

    That is one of the major problems to overcome. I do not see any reason to believe that the feds have any real interest in developing such strategies. Local MPs certainly are not showing any leadership here – nor are they being pushed to do so by constituents. The current fed philosophy is ‘hands-off’, unless there is short-term political gain to be had.

    The disinterest at the federal level is bad enough, but that could be overcome by the province with the right amount of lobbying. Unfortunately, the current political leadership in NB has also shown that it has no real interest in change. The province is floating about, rudderless, and at the mercy of the shifting winds. Instead of strong leadership, we have cowards afraid of the populist mob.

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