An economic developer sent me an email yesterday suggesting that the negative feedback from ICT and engineering firms to the attraction of IBM and a big engineering outfit was proof we shouldn’t engage local private sector leaders in economic development. He suggested they will “always look out for number one” and fight attempts to grow the industry by anything other than expanding their business opportunities.
I don’t agree with this conclusion. I would like to think that these industry leaders should be engaged in an approach to grow their industry that includes a mix of export development, investment attraction, workforce and infrastructure development. Excluding these leaders from the process of developing strategy for their sectors is a recipe for this kind of dissonance.
If Halifax wants to grow an engineering cluster with expertise in onshore and offshore oil and gas – that is a laudable objective – particularly with the emerging potential of onshore gas development. However, this should be done with industry leaders and a clear understanding that we want to grow the cluster – including attracting high quality firms from outside when it makes sense. I have to believe if the other legs of the table are in place, the local industry will be supportive.
What does this have to do with the wholeslae industry in New Brunswick?
Nothing, except to transition to my point today.
Another economic developer wanted to know why wholesale trade GDP has dropped markedly in the past few years in New Brunswick (wholesale trade is in the middle between the retail shops and the manufacturers of goods).
My answer to him?
Novel idea, to be sure, but maybe one of the 600 economic developers in New Brunswick should reach out and ask the top 10 wholesale firms in New Brunswick why the sector is shedding GDP and jobs.
Maybe it would be a good time to convene these sector leaders and ask them how to regain the lost ground in this sector.
Imagine that. How many economic developers around New Brunswick care about the wholesale trade sector?