CGI Group – whither thou goest?

Remember this name well, CGI Group. This firm invested heavily in New Brunswick. Set up their ‘G-Lab’ research laboratory in Fredericton. Has considerable employment in Saint John. It is top notch IT company with 25,000 global employees.

A few weeks ago, somebody told me that their days in New Brunswick are numbered. I heard rumours of this again.

And they are starting to make sense. Why else would CGI bypass New Brunswick all together in their recent announcement of new jobs in PEI and Nova Scotia? Now they are hiring 500 more in the United States and ramping up India.

Nada in New Brunswick.

Will somebody please ask the government if they are making any effort to keep one of New Brunswick’s top employers here? Maybe a question on why they are expanding in PEI and NS but not here? Maybe a question on why they are expanding in the US but not here? Maybe a question on why they are expanding in India but not here?

This is exactly why Mike Macbride, former Director of Trade & Investment with the former NB Department of Economic Development and Tourism expressed his frustration with the current government’s approach to economic development this week in the Daily Gleaner and on the CBC morning show.

I received a transcript of his CBC appearance. Macbride starts out by meticulously listing what the economic benefits would have been if New Brunswick had attracted Research in Motion’s 1,200 jobs (you know, the jobs former BNB Minister Peter Mesheau didn’t want because the project was too ‘big’ for New Brunswick). Taxes, payroll, investment. All good stuff. Not a word about how this new investment would have led to more Equalization.

But I digress.

Macbride intones:

They [McKenna, et. al.] were proactive and passionate towards economic development and it was the number one priority because they believed that through job creation and wealth generation, that was the path to becoming a have province as opposed to a have not province. That was there philosophical outlet on economic development.

Geez, Mike. Get a blog why don’t ya?

He continues:

I think, first of all, the province has to believe that this is the way to self sufficiency, that
economic development and job creation is the way to go and the focus then has to shift. To me that should be probably the top one or two priorities. And it has to be, the leadership has to come from the top. Of course, the leadership can’t come from the middle or the bottom. It has to come from the top. But you have to believe that that is the way to go as opposed to looking for more moneys from Ottawa.

Obviously, we need the support from Ottawa while we are in the have-not position, but I think if we’re going to go forward, we’ve got to, we’ve got to take more initiative. We’ve got to understand what’s happening. And what – of course in New Brunswick, what you have to worry about is not just what’s happening in New Brunswick, but almost more importantly what is not happening and what is not happening.

I fear we are not getting the leads. We are not putting competitive packages together because we’re not aware of expansions and relocations and the business is so competitive that unless everybody’s pulling together from the top down, I think we’re just not going to, we’re going to continue not to get the kind of business that we’d really like to see in New Brunswick.

Now let me wrap this up for you.

Macbride believes that the province is not doing a good job of attracting new companies to the province.

I go one step further. I don’t think they are doing a good enough job of retaining and growing the firms we have here.

Consider CGI. If they leave or downsize in New Brunswick while expanding everywhere else – that will be a shame.