Learning from Boise, Idaho

Couple of things interesting in this article:

The Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce raised $5 million from local businesses to recruit industry to that city.

Now, the implications of this are fairly obvious. Boise has a population of 190,117 people – larger than the Moncton CMA or Saint John CMA but $5 million? Give John Thompson $5 million over at EGM and watch what could happen.

$5 million from the private sector to recruit business – and raised by the Chamber of Commerce.

For those of you with fairly long memories, remember that a Moncton chamber spokesperson once criticized the Lord government for bringing Molson and said something to the effect that the money should have gone to small business.

This should be a serious lesson for economic developers in New Brunswick.

The second thing that is very interesting from this article is that Boise (remember population under 200k) recruited a top economic developer from a large urban California region. He spent a decade working at the California Department of Commerce and most recently was president and chief executive officer of the Inland Empire Economic Partnership in Riverside, Calif.

Now, I was criticized on these pages for supporting Shawn Graham’s idea to bring in top talent from where ever he could find it.

Crappy little Boise recruits top economic developer from California.

When was the last time a New Brunswick economic development agency (local, provincial or federal) recruited a top economic developer from the largest urban areas in Canada or the USA?

Again, I am not maligning the local talent but you have got to cross-pollinate local talent with the best and brightest minds out there.

Boise. Who would have thunk it?

Maybe soon we will say: New Brunswick, who would have thunk it?

By the way, in comparative terms, Boise in the US is about the size of the Miramichi in the Canadian context (in relative population terms). Can you ever even imagine Miramichi having either the hutzpa or the dough to attract the top economic developer from Calgary or Halifax?

If we don’t start imagining it, we can look forward to more of the “slow burn”.

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0 Responses to Learning from Boise, Idaho

  1. scott says:

    When was the last time a New Brunswick economic development agency (local, provincial or federal) recruited a top economic developer from the largest urban areas in Canada or the USA.

    I guess Richard Hatfield bringing in highly acclaimed bureaucrats from that “major urban mecca” called Saskatoon doesn’t count??? LOL

    On a serious note, good “get” David. The more you expose what we are not doing here, with regards to ED, the better. People have the right to know the shit that is going on…or should I say “not” going on in New Brunswick. Keep up the good work.

    However, I do disagree with you on Shawn Graham. He has promised a lot, but If he were to get in, he would never be able to govern because he would be handcuffed by too many “special interest” groups. Plus, I’m quite certain that he could never manage a government caucus. He’s a nice guy, but he can’t say no. I want someone who can make the tough decisions that both you and I know have to be made for this province to succeed.

  2. David Campbell says:

    Not to put too much of a fine point on this but:


    After nearly four years of economic development in Melfort [Saskatchewan], Dillon Shewchuk looks towards innovation where he has accepted a new position as Marketing Manager at Innovation Place in Saskatoon.
    Shewchuk said he is looking forward to the challenge of working in a larger centre.

    In my opinion, it should be a promotion to go do economic development in the Acadian Peninsula or Miramichi – where it is needed the most.

    Think about how messed up our thinking is on this.

    Imagine if the top researchers on the AIDS epidemic thought it would be a promotion to do research on the common cold. Even though 100x more people get the common cold than AIDS, where is the need greatest?

    By the way, I extend this logic to New Brunswick as a whole. To the top economic development experts in North America, New Brunswick should be the challenge they are looking for. Cripes, imagine being an economic developer in Phoenix. You don’t even show up for work and the population would grow by 200,000 per year. But New Brunswick, with its 150 years of sub- Canada average population growth rates and now currently in sustained population decline with the second least educated workforce in North America? Now that’s a challenge.

  3. David Campbell says:

    Scott, I appreciate your comments and I have to say that I don’t know much about Shawn Graham. But your boy has had seven years and will be the first Premier in the history of New Brunswick to leave the province with less population than when he arrived – and that’s not much of a legacy. And if he is such a decisive leader, why are there emerging labour shortages, dropping small businesses and an overall reduction in this thing called ‘self-sufficiency’? Somebody else needs a kick at the can – Graham, Mockler, Mesheau, somebody. I’m not getting any younger and the prospect of four more years of the same rub and tickle stuff is not appealing.

    But I like balance in the blog commentary – I’ve got socialists, Libs and PCs. I would actually like a vigorous defence of Lord’s economic policies to be put forward in this blog. I have not seen a thorough PC published review of his economic policy (beyond those marketing pieces they send out every year).

  4. scott says:

    As they say in Ottawa, the worst time to debate the issues is during an election. In others words, I’ll plead the 5th, oops that’s the US, on his ED record. However, Stephen Harper has been criticized for promoting key Liberals on critical files such as softwood lumber and the middle east. If you ask me, he’s a genius for doing this. And if I could recommend a good (possible liberal) to Bernard Lord, it would be you. As my old boss once said, “issues are solved by those who have their partisan blinders on”. I truly believe that and probably the reason why I’m a centrist at heart.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Ive got news, nobody is successful just because they hired somebody. Talk to us about it in 5 years when this guy comes up with solutions that nobody else could think of. There are millions of blogs out there, many on economic development. If people want ideas, they are not hard to come by.

    The ONLY benefit of hiring a big name is due to the incestuous nature of big business. THe “favours” that are owed him. In other words, if hes got the connections to a head honcho of some corporation and can drag him over then at least thats something. But again, just because a big company sets up shop means little, in fact, Ive said before, it creates artificial growth to an area that doesnt necessarily translate to growth. A rural area may stay dependant on it, and in the end, like natural resources in NB, the government must keep bailing them out.

    For the other side of the coin just go to the BNB website and check out their news releases. Something little mentioned is that high speed internet to rural new brunswick is now largely done, in fact was done (according to them) six months ahead of schedule.

    There are lots of companys in there, like the mentioned Allsco, who got money for growth.

    As for me personally, and those without a comfy roof over their head, the fact that Lord is the ONLY premier in New Brunswicks history to have a referendum is a big plus, even though it was horribly managed.

    Likewise, the oft mentioned Residential Tenants Act is legislation that finally gives basic human rights to the poor in this province, something not even considered by McKenna or Hatfield. I suspect Lords biggest contributions will be overlooked in the election since the poor dont vote.

    However, people dont remember Thomas Jefferson for economic development. There is a certain class which you guys belong to that have very specific interests, I can guarantee you that those people with more EI and those poor who now have rights see the world far differently. I know that wasnt really Lords aim, but thats sort of irrelevant.

  6. scott says:

    Ive got news, nobody is successful just because they hired somebody.

    Five words: Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld. Nuff said.

  7. Anonymous says: