First RIM, now this:
Rural Nova Scotia has a new champion, and his name is Kerry Martens. The Vancouver man is pledging to create 1,500 jobs in the Cumberland County community of Parrsboro in the next two years. And he plans to do it without a dime from Nova Scotia taxpayers. The owner of Headz Gamez International, a company based in Richmond, B. C., that produces sports-themed board games, wants to bring about half of his production to the province from China, where he employs 3,000 people. The move would make him one of the largest employers in the province.
Although he isn’t looking for any direct assistance for his company from any level of government, Mr. Martens said in a phone interview Friday that he does want to see public investments in the town’s infrastructure, including roads, sewers, schools and the hospital.
Mr. Martens first fell in love with the town and its people 30 years ago when he was a 17-year-old in the navy stationed in Halifax along with Parrsboro native Bill Perry, who took him home at Christmas and throughout the year. “I’ve flown all over the world and I have never forgotten Parrsboro,” he said.
Mr. Martens approached the town about two months ago to express his interest in bringing his business to the area. Town council helped him acquire 17 acres in the town’s industrial park. He plans to build a 14,000-square-foot assembly plant and 19,000-square-foot printing factory, followed by a 12,000-square-foot storage building, office building, day-care centre for employees and community centre for the town.
Couple of points:
1) Where’s Peter Mesheau to comfort us by telling us that this project would be too big for New Brunswick.
2) Linkages, folks. It’s all about linkages. We need to look far and wide for business leaders with some attachment to New Brunswick (lived here, went to school here, vacationed here, fished salmon here, etc.) and pitch them on this type of deal.
3) For those of you who don’t believe in rural development, take a second look.
4) And for those of you that would crap on this project (low wages or whatever), please forget it. I did a presentation a couple of years ago in Parrsboro and there were about 30 Parrsboroians in the room and I just had a sense that they wanted some hope. That they were tired of watching the slow decline of their community (ies) and way of life. I have said we need to go out and get ‘anchor employers’ like Michelin, etc. to bolster these rural economies.
5) You get the sense that Nova Scotia is quite eager to attract industry. In the past six months, RIM 1,200 jobs, Canada’s Cape Canaveral which could create 3,000 jobs in rural NS and now this guy and his 1,500 manufacturing, engineering and service jobs. If this happens, what a boom for that part of Nova Scotia.
6) There’s an election coming in New Brunswick. You had better take a long look at the party platforms and track record. Peel through the layers of clutter and spin and take a look for the party that says “we will go out and attract world class companies to invest in New Brunswick”. The party with the most credible plan should be supported. We cannot wait any longer. Cripes, even Nova Scotia is kicking our collective arse.
By the way, I was in Parrsboro and region last weekend and there is something compelling about that region. I can’t put my finger on it…..