As most of you know I had the opportunity to work with the Business Council on an economic development roadmap for Northern New Brunswick a few months back. It looks like at least one of my recommendations will be implemented.
I think it is important to reiterate that a new focus on economic development in the North does not mean (or should not mean) less of a focus on the three urban centres in the South. All three have specific opportunities and need to be at the fore of NB’s economic development efforts. For me it’s never been an either/or situation.
There was an article in the newspaper last week or maybe the week before that about a group coming to New Brunswick to look at the potential of investing here. The person quoted said something like this – we intend to tour the province – we start in Fredericton and then on to Saint John and Moncton. Northern New Brunswick doesn’t tend to be seriously on the map in terms of attracting business investment but we know from UMOE and Ocean Spray that it is possible. The value proposition has to be right and I hope that a considerable amount of attention is given to bulking up the business case for investing in the North.
I hope this team in the North is sales-oriented and not banker-oriented. We need to attract significant new business investment to the region and that will require a new sales effort (towards internal companies and those in the global marketplace).
I’d like to see tax-based incentive programs but I am not holding my breath on that one.
Finally, to the poster that is worried this is more duplication of all the activity in the North right now, your concerns are valid. I do think that there needs to be some better coordination – and possibly some consolidation – but the overriding principle needs to be the effort to rebuilt an economy that has been struggling. Not rebuilding through massive new subsidies or making EI more attractive but through building a strong value proposition that leads to export-oriented local entrepreneurs expanding and more firms like UMOE setting up there.
In that great movie, Bedknobs and Broomsticks – I think it’s Angela Lounsbury singing – there is a song that is appropriate:
Watch the tiny totters
Inching up a hill
It may seem to you he’s merely standing still
Though the steps he takes are infinitely small
They’re a step in the right direction after all
I have three small kids. Where do you think I am going to get my musical influences?
9 thoughts on “Northern NB”
I think they [the liberals] should have went forward and made some changes to BNB before just sending as you say, “a team” of economic developers, guided under the same ethos, to the north. Surely you can’t expect them to be good salespeople, unlike the rest. And why should you?
> tax-based incentive programs
I am not sure why tax-based incentives causes you such heart burn. We use tax incentives to encourage all kinds of behaviour from saving for retirment to buying a green car. Why not to encourage companies to expand?
I know you wanted a followup on your past exportations? lol
Business New Brunswick hired Roc Consulting Group in December 2007 to bolster the province’s efforts to expand economic development opportunities in the region.
The department mandated in the contract that the consultants were to unearth 400 investment leads that would lead to 40 possible projects and four signed deals. At least half of the leads were to be in northern New Brunswick.
According to documents obtained by CBC News earlier this year, the consultants did not meet those objectives.
Let’s be honest. Northern NB is *&^%ed. Simple as that. New Brunswick hasn’t progressed much in Canada’s totem, why would we expect anything government does to change that in northern NB?
‘Tax based incentives’ aren’t any different than subsidies-hence the sigh. What Mr. Campbell always forgets is that new companies need workers. Those workers have children to educate, and families that need health care. So whats the difference between a tax incentive and a subsidy? If I give a company 100 grand to update equipment, they use that to grow (or stay in business). If I say ‘you can save 100 grand in taxes’, that’s fine, so long as they are profitable. IF they are profitable it makes no difference, because that 100 grand has to then come from the population. For provincial revenues it is the same.
There are two caveats there, first, we don’t know how much of that 100 grand is just pocketed by managment, and second, we are assuming that the tax system is fair.
But let’s look at most of the world outside the british system. This is a hypothetical example, but makes the point. Let’s say we live in Campbellton, where there is a problem because booze taxes mean everybody goes to Quebec for booze. We know what the government ‘solution’ to that has been (stop laughing). So we are in Campbellton and note this problem…how can we resolve it? Well, the first thing we may try is chopping off beer taxes to compete (this is just Campbellton remember). So what we may try is lowering beer taxes-since we aren’t collecting much anyway, and put a smaller increase on snack foods, or hard liquor, and things that may ‘sell with’ the beer.
In short, the big problem is a ‘top down’ taxation system. The feds control much of it, which means federally it makes no difference whether you set up in Moosenee or Toronto (which of course helps Toronto because even the feds can’t dictate WHERE Toronto or Moosenee are located. However, changing the taxes for Moosenee would help level the playing field they lose on geography.
In Vermont, this is used regularly, the sales taxes you pay in one county in Vermont will be different than the taxes in another. Ironically, while this may make critics state that it would just exacerbate the problems back to how they were in the late 1800’s the evidence is the opposite. Switzerland has a markedly ‘uniform’ country even though finances are heavily localized. Vermont is fairly uniform, although geography enters into it again and the heaviest areas of industry are closer to Boston. So to combat this the regions heavily into agriculture have focused on renewable energy, and they are able to do this because they have some local control.
In NB, its as silly to think that a provincial government with heavy reliance from the south is going to ‘meet the needs’ of a disenfranchised community outside its borders as it is to think that the Canadian federal government is suddenly going to meet the needs of the maritimes, or that in 1950 the english government was going to meet the needs of the acadians. The latter was resolved the way most things are-political activity and finally political representation. It’s silly to say that this is not an ‘either or’ issue, of course it is. If a company is looking to locate in the province only ONE place is going to get it.
Campbellton, where there is a problem because booze taxes mean everybody goes to Quebec for booze. We know what the government ’solution’ to that has been (stop laughing). So we are in Campbellton and note this problem…how can we resolve it? Well, the first thing we may try is chopping off beer taxes to compete (this is just Campbellton remember). So what we may try is lowering beer taxes-since we aren’t collecting much anyway, and put a smaller increase on snack foods, or hard liquor, and things that may ’sell with’ the beer.
As Reagan once said, “if it moves, tax it, if it moves too fast, regulate it, if it doesn’t move at all, subsidize it!”
I think Ontario and Quebec used the second measure in an attempt to slow down the sale of cross jurisdictional beer purchases (issuing a small fine to individuals if caught). Other than that, we should push for more movement of goods and people cross jurisdictionally within a common market (we could even level the playing field with less or no subsidization instead of trying to manipulate the market).
This would in turn spurn on more “true” competition within a free market, thus driving down prices for consumers. The gas pricing system is an example of poor regulation and subsidization, thus resulting in unpredictability for consumers on different sides of the NB/QUE and NB/NS border.
Experts, arguing policies argued for 200 years! The things the articulate can get away with, usually!
Trying to be optimistic, maybe if the North is totally f$*ked as some suggest, it is a good thing. What I mean by that is real change happens when there is a crisis that creates a sense of urgency. Perhaps the people will realize that they have to take control of their situation and make meaningful change. It is not good enough to kiss butt and whine for more hand outs.
Good change happened in Moncton when they hit bottom and similarly in Summerside. The local people really drove the turn around in those places. Yes, they did get financial help but it was for strategic initiatives not political ‘hush’ handouts. Let”s hope that community leaders willing to invest sweat equity emerge from the doom and gloom.
B/S! Moncton was given billions of fed money. Or you’d be mud.
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