I have always liked Pennsylvania Governor Rendell ever since I got an email from him asking me if I wanted to expand my business in his state.
After receiving that email, I did a little digging and while some of the more cynical people around may say he is more bun than burger (sizzle than steak, et. al.), I like his style.
You see he got elected exactly on the platform I would like to see in New Brunswick. Pennsylvania was slipping. It was losing jobs. Many of it’s anchor industries were in decline. So the would be Governor Rendell campaigned on the promise that the economy would be his primary focus and passion. That he would turn things around.
And while he has implemented a number of programs for small business growth, his preoccupation is attracting business to his state. He sends emails with his smiling face asking business people to expand in his state. He has an aggressive marketing and advertising campaign in multiple foreign markets. He personally spends at least half his time (they say) on economic development files. He jets to Korea and Japan. He makes speeches constantly on the need to revitalize the state.
And they have branded the whole initiative as the ‘New Pennsylvania’. I like that. Now, don’t get me wrong ‘New New Brunswick’ would most likely elicit some bad jokes but the spirit is what I like.
Wouldn’t it be cool if we had a Premier even half as committed to economic renewal as Rendell?
It doesn’t make sense to pretend things are great and make big noises with little effort. Governor Rendell knows this. Governor Blagojevich of Illinois knows this. It seems (we’ll see) that Jean Charest is coming around (his economic development minister is using Frank McKenna as his role model when it comes to attracting business).
It’s time for a politician in New Brunswick to lay it all on the table. Population decline. Traditional industries in trouble. Out-migration of our top talent. Rural exodus. Second worst educational performance in Canada. Lowest use of the Internet in Canada. Least amount of money spent on R&D in Canada. Increasing reliance on Equalization and Employment Insurance.
And then sketch an initiative that tackles these issues head on (please don’t use the word prosperity, though. I think New Brunswickers have been deprogrammed as to what that word means – in New Brunswick ‘prosperity’ means all those features of New Brunswick as listed above). And, like Rendell, et. al. realize the absolute critical importance of attracting new business and investment into New Brunswick. And then go out and tirelessly make it happen.
Then if you get interest from a national party it will be for actual work and actual results rather than you fitting a certain demographic profile….
But who knows, maybe I’ll get an email from Bernard Lord asking me to invest in New Brunswick some time soon….