Start ‘Moncton’ Up

Start Me Up

The Rolling Stones are coming to Greater Moncton. This is a great story for our region. Our small community is featured on the same list as Los Angeles, Chicago, Toronto, Rio De Janeiro and Mexico City.

We should be thrilled, right?

Wrong. At least if you read the national media. Last week in the Montreal Gazette it was stated that Moncton residents “are angry about the Rolling Stones show”. “Down in Moncton, it’s the Riling Stones” quipped the Ottawa Citizen and the Globe & Mail headline read “Moncton residents fret about Rolling Stones show”.

Now, I think it goes without saying that if 60 or 70 thousand people converge on Greater Moncton it is bound to be somewhat of an inconvenience. Yes, there may be line ups at the local restaurants. Yes, some of the roads around the concert site may be closed. Yes, there may even be a few traffic jams here and there.

But for those of us that are grumbling about the concert, aren’t we missing the big picture?

After all, when a Moncton-sized snowstorm hits our community, the national papers are filled with quotes from Monctonians proudly saying they made it to work through three feet of snow. Or they had to use their snow shoes but they made it to work on time. The stuff of legend.

But, when a similar inconvenience hits the community, in the form of a global brand name called the Rolling Stones bringing tens of thousands of visitors, we get ‘angry’ or ‘riled up’.

Where’s that same level of pride? Instead of snowshoes, you may have to walk to work in sneakers – but isn’t it worth it?

Based on the experience with previous concerts such as the Classic Rock Festival in 1998, the Rolling Stones concert should bring well over $20 million in economic activity to our community.

But the benefits go well beyond that.

This concert has helped raise the profile of our community across North America and beyond.

In my day job, I spend my time scanning international media sources for information that is relevant to my clients. I can tell you that Moncton was mentioned more times in national and U.S. media sources as a result of the Rolling Stones concert than all other stories in the previous 12 months combined.

There are about 95,000 people living in the urban area of Moncton, Riverview and Dieppe. Across North America, there are over 430 urban areas that have at least that population or more. Yet, of those 430 locations, only a small handful were chosen to host the Rolling Stones.

This is a great achievement. Have you ever heard of East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania or Lumberton, North Carolina or Homosassa Springs, Florida? Neither have I but they are all urban areas larger than Greater Moncton.

A key part of economic development is attracting international businesses to your community. Companies like UPS, Exxon and AOL. If they don’t know you, there is much less chance they will ever set up here.

Now I am not saying that all Greater Monctonians are against the Rolling Stones coming to town. Far from it. I just hope that the next time I pick up the Globe and Mail or the Ottawa Citizen, the headline reads “Greater Moncton residents thrilled to host the Rolling Stones”.

Because in our community’s quest to become a vibrant and successful economy, we still have a long way to go. And the international exposure brought by this concert is one small step on this journey.

So bravo to the City of Moncton for landing this concert. I encourage them to work even harder to raise the profile of our community on the world stage.

Moncton, New Brunswick? Where’s that? Oh, that’s the place where The Stones played. I know that place.