Consumer products maker Colgate-Palmolive Co. plans to cut its worldwide work force by about 12 per cent and their Moncton warehouse will be closed by the end of April 2005. It is an especially hard pill to swallow when a big name company like Colgate-Palmolive closes an operation in the community. These companies tend to pay above average wages and benefits and bring foreign investment and exposure to the community.
I am not sure if anything could have been done to prevent this closure but there are steps that a community can take to ensure that every possible action is taken before the company makes the fateful announcement. In economic development parlance, this is called a BRE (business retention and expansion) program. A BRE program builds formal relationships with local companies and provides them with a one-stop-shop for all local, provincial and federal government departments as well as private sector linkages. A good BRE program identifies companies at high risk of closure and works with them well before the point of no return to determine any possible solutions. The personal relationships fostered between the company and the local community through a BRE program make it that much more difficult to close a local plant or warehouse when considering where to cut.
Enterprise Greater Moncton would be wise to follow the lead of the Greater Halifax Partnership, Enterprise Saint John and others who have already implemented such a program. Come to think of it, the provincial government should also look at this type of BRE approach. Maybe they would have identified in advance that the Nackawic mill may have been a target for closure and could have worked on alternatives well in advance of the shutdown instead of after the fact rushing around looking for a solution. And how about the kraft pulp mill in the Miramichi. And the Saputo factory in Sussex. And the call centre in Campbellton. And the forest products firm in Edmundston. And the…..