Finding a niche for NB ports
It seems to me that the Port of Belledune and other Maritime Ports need to figure out what their niche is within the Atl. Gateway concept. Complaining about Halifax won’t help. Halifax will always be the dominant port in the region – even though my talks with folks that know Melford say they are going to be an aggressive competitior.
I don’t know much about the Port of Belledune but my first inclination would be that it should be positioned more as an economic development catalyst than plain vanilla cargo transit point. For example, if a wind and other industrial turbine manufacturer can be attracted here – it will need to be located near to water (and preferably rail). I would site it in Belledune. In other words, use the port as a venue for manufacturing/assembly that must have access to water.
That doesn’t mean ignoring a cargo strategy where that makes sense. It is just about raising the bar on what you want to do with Belledune. How about a Free Trade Zone in Belledune? I know this is part functional and part marketing but why not?
In my opinion, we need to have a medium term economic development strategy for northern New Brunswick that reflects the skillsets of the workforce and the diaspora workforce that would come back. That means industrial and manufacturing jobs – preferably in durable industries that have at least a 20-30 year shelf life. The longer term strategy should include more of a concentration on technology and higher value added service jobs but that is tied to education levels which need to improve up in the North over time.
Port of Belledune as key catalyst on the east
Edmundston as anchor to the west
Bathurst as the growth pole services centre
Industrial/manufacturing base – preferably industries that have at least a 20-30 year shelf life
Longer term transformation into technology jobs
Oh, what about Miramichi?
I have always thought that the ‘Chi is more aligned with the south and really in the orbit of Moncton. I think its future is tied more to the south than the north. Just an opinion.