Good news for the Miramichi

The construction of a bridge 4,000 kilometres away from Miramichi is part of the provincial government’s strategy to rebuild the economy of the northern New Brunswick city. The building of the Deh Cho Bridge in the Northwest Territories by the Atcon Group Inc. will add 150 jobs to the Miramichi economy thanks to the construction of a new $21.5-million steel fabrication plant.

This is good news for the Miramichi. I suspect that that jobs will be well paid.

But, I do have a comment.

The province is providing $7.5 million to the project or 35% of the set up costs of the plant.

A few years ago, I was involved with a project called Project Cougar (we think it was Michelin) that would have provided 1,200 high paying jobs. This was a $300 million project. The total ‘package’ offered by the provincial government (training grants, free land, etc.) was $23 million.

….or 7.6% of the total set up costs of the plant.

Needless to say, we lost that plant to the southern US.

Why is it okay to pay 35% of a small ATCON project (that, by the way will end when the bridge is done) and only offer 7.6% to a large, multinational project that would have provided 9 times as many jobs and a long term, viable project?

The Government of New Brunswick has got to start thinking bigger. Oh, but we can’t afford to attract those big plants.

Hmmm. Yet, you can put $67 million in government loans into a Nackawic plant with a few hundred jobs offering limited benefits.