Getting geographically focused
Effective economic development is a lot like running a business. You have to build products/services that people want. You have to understand your competition. You have to target markets where you are likely to have the most impact and you need to measure your results and feedback into the system.
One of the ways that small companies succeed is by being highly targetd. Ford can market their cars far and wide with a very mass market approach. Other smaller companies can be very effective but they need to be highly targeted to who they think are most likely to buy their cars.
This is why I think places like New Brunswick should (and should have years ago) look at potential niche markets for investment attraction and trade development rather than just follow the pack to China or India. I worked a bit on a project to attract investment from France one time. I was told that Quebec has nearly 100 staff in France working on investment, trade and tourism. New Brunswick had (has) none.
Norway, Finland, etc. seemed to be places with affinity to New Brunswick (climate, culture, etc.) that have companies that are active in the North American market. Not a pile but potentially enough carve some investment for NB. If you get targeted you can hire Norwegians speaking sales guys, have Norwegian language collateral materials, align immigration efforts, etc.
But we don’t do this and Quebec and Ontario end up attracting – by default – most of the companies that want to set up in Canada from Scandanavia.
This is a specific example of a multimedia firm setting up in Quebec for its massive tax break which we can’t begin to compete with.
But it doesn’t invalidate my argument about focus.