This ties into my TJ column today about research.
When I came back to New Brunswick in 1991, the province was already becoming known for its geomatics and GIS expertise from the excellent work at UNB. So the question is simple. Why didn’t we leverage that great research into a serious geomatics cluster in New Brunswick?
Why didn’t we go out and try and attract the top players such as ERSI based on the capabilities here? Why didn’t we put incentives in place to increase the technology’s use here? Why aren’t there hundreds if not thousands of jobs in this sector with international and local companies providing services and technology around the globe? When you google geomatics cluster you get many hits about a very interesting initiative in Alberta – but I went through a dozen pages of hits with no mention of New Brunswick.
There are a few companies operating in the sector that I know of but if you go back to studies done in the mid 1990s you will find all this talk about ‘potential’.
I just think we don’t do a good enough job looking at economic development from a cluster – or if you don’t like the word – an ecosystem perspective.
We should fund research that is aligned with targeted sector development efforts. We should try to attract firms in those targeted sectors. We should promote entrepreneurship in those targeted sectors. We should build community college and university level diploma and degree programs to turn out graduates for these sectors. We should be out targeting immigrants that have skills in those targeted sectors. We should be branding the province or regions within the provinces as excellent places for those targeted sectors. We should be preparing cost studies and tax studies showing our advantages in those sectors. We should be developing tax incentive programs to attract investment into those targeted sectors. We should organize trade missions in those targeted sectors. We should…..
Ad hoc doesn’t seem to work that well. Sure we had great GIS work at UNB 20 years ago – probably still do – but how are we building that into a more integrated approach to economic development?