There is an excellent article in the Economist this week in the rise of unmanned drones for civilian use. I was particularly interested to read that many U.S. cities are trying to convince the FAA to make them one of six test locations for the use of drones. If they are selected, they will be able to attract firms developing drones and applications.
I know there are privacy issues here but that is not my point.
My point is about competitive advantage.
Why shouldn’t Moncton or Fredericton or Bathurst be lobbying to be among the first cities in Canada to allow unmanned drones and then working to attract and develop firms in this sector?
You and I both know that is not going to happen. The last time a New Brunswick city was ‘first’ at anything was probably in 1854. We’re just not wired that way. But we should be.
We should have a team of researchers – in the bowels of some secret government agency – trying to identify ways the province could develop unique competitive advantages and then lever those advantages for development.
I know the purists would bristle at this view.
But I don’t care. Businesses do not invest in communities unless there is a clear reason to do so. That can involve local market potential but that potential is distinctly restricted by the size of the local market. For those firms with export-based opportunities, there has to be a clearly definable value proposition. This can be cost-based, tax-based, workforce-based infrastructure-based, regulation-based, natural resource-based, geography-based, university-based – whatever — but it has to be there.
Spending some time – like San Diego trying to become one the six test cities for drones – thinking up innovative new tricks – is a great idea.