I see that Enterprise Restigouche has an RFP out for a ‘repopulation strategy’. I hope they select a firm to do this work that understands the direct correlation between population and economy.
This, I submit, should be somewhat self-evident. However, having talked with and read the reports of a number of ‘immigration’ or ‘population’ consultants in New Brunswick – I have lost faith in its self-evidence. For example, I read last year a 90 page immigration strategy for a community that covered everything from integration, the need for language lessons, the need for the community to be more immigrant friendly, etc. – hardly a mention of economy. Now, when I talked with the consultant about this the response was “economic development was not part of the mandate”.
The immigration strategy had as its vision a strategy that would lead to more recruitment and retention of immigrants. Again, that whole self-evidency thing – it would seem that economy is embedded in the mandate.
Now, communities may wish to develop a ‘population’ strategy and an ‘economic development’ strategy separately. Fine. But unless they are completely aligned one or both will be doomed to fail. If you can’t stimulate economic development – you will not attract migrants or immigrants and if you can’t ensure a supply of workers – you will not have economic development.
So my advice to the folks at Enterprise Restigouche is to ask that question of every potential consultant. Anyone claiming that you can develop a ‘repopulation strategy’ in an economic vacuum should be turfed immediately.