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.