There are a lot of folks who don’t think New Brunswick can attract industries and business investment. Our cities are too small – and forget about Northern New Brunswick. Funny thing is, a lot of those folks are economic developers themselves.
That’s why I like Site Selection magazine’s annual ranking of micropolitan economic development (communities between 10,000 and 50,000 population). It’s fun to see communities of 15,000, 22,000, etc. basically out in the middle of nowhere attracting new industries and growing economies. There is no magic formula. Communities need to build a value proposition for why it makes sense for certain industries to locate in their area. This can include geographic advantages, natural resource-based advantages, transportation infrastructure advantages, cost advantages, labour force advantages, incentives and tax break advantages, R&D expertise, etc. Where there are gaps in the value proposition, governments are well advised to fill them in with targeted investment.
There is also the belief that places like Moncton and Saint John can’t compete with the big metros. We are too far from markets, too isolated, etc. Sure. Problem is that flies in the face of the facts. Check out the list of to metros between 200k and 1 mill population. Sioux City is number one. Sioux City? I have been there – twice. Nice place but by definition it is the boondocks. In recent years, the area has attracted large investments in bio-fuels, wind energy, data centers and customer contact centers. In 2008, seven area projects were either data centers or call centers.
Come on. If New Brunswick is not attracting its share of business investment and not growing its employment base and its population it is the result of a lack of imagination and belief rather than some fundamental disadvantage that we like to hang our lack of results hat on.