Manitoba & New Brunswick – partners in decline

Steve Demmings, one of the architects of the Manitoba call centre initiative in the early 1990s is now lashing out at the Manitoba government for its lack of vision on economic development.

He talks about Nova Scotia’s success in great detail but he says something that is less accurate:

New Brunswick Premier Bernard Lord has a strategy. He saw the impact of the McKenna Miracle and attracted 37 companies, creating 8,023 new jobs. Companies, including Rogers Communications, Imperial Oil, IBM, AOL, Center Beam and Exxon Mobil, have been welcomed.

Now, from his outside perspective Premier Lord is piggybacking on McKenna’s strategy. It is true that most of the miniscule job creation over the past six years has been call centre expansions but I would hardly call this a strategy.

His characterizations of Nova Scotia are much more accurate:

Nova Scotia has taken the contact centre sector to “the next level” in creating higher-end careers. On Nov. 26, 2005, Hamm, Jim Balsillie, co-CEO of Research In Motion Ltd. (RIM), and Stephen Lund, CEO of Nova Scotia Business Inc., announced a 1,200-person Level 3 and 4 technical support centre. RIM will invest $230 million and employ college and university graduates at $45,000-$48,000 annually and offer careers for the 40,000 college and university students attending Nova Scotia institutions.

He concludes:

According to Statistics Canada, Manitoba experienced a net loss of 6,211 people (mainly to Alberta and British Columbia) in the first nine months of 2005. Can we now add Nova Scotia as a destination for “our best and brightest” searching for rewarding careers because of Manitoba’s lack of vision for the knowledge economy?

Despite Steve’s obvious baggage (nostalgia for the 90s – I can relate) – he makes a series of good points.

If Nova Scotia can do it, why can’t Manitoba? Why can’t New Brunswick? If PEI can develop an aerospace cluster, why can’t NB?