Learning from Boise, Idaho

Couple of things interesting in this article:

The Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce raised $5 million from local businesses to recruit industry to that city.

Now, the implications of this are fairly obvious. Boise has a population of 190,117 people – larger than the Moncton CMA or Saint John CMA but $5 million? Give John Thompson $5 million over at EGM and watch what could happen.

$5 million from the private sector to recruit business – and raised by the Chamber of Commerce.

For those of you with fairly long memories, remember that a Moncton chamber spokesperson once criticized the Lord government for bringing Molson and said something to the effect that the money should have gone to small business.

This should be a serious lesson for economic developers in New Brunswick.

The second thing that is very interesting from this article is that Boise (remember population under 200k) recruited a top economic developer from a large urban California region. He spent a decade working at the California Department of Commerce and most recently was president and chief executive officer of the Inland Empire Economic Partnership in Riverside, Calif.

Now, I was criticized on these pages for supporting Shawn Graham’s idea to bring in top talent from where ever he could find it.

Crappy little Boise recruits top economic developer from California.

When was the last time a New Brunswick economic development agency (local, provincial or federal) recruited a top economic developer from the largest urban areas in Canada or the USA?

Again, I am not maligning the local talent but you have got to cross-pollinate local talent with the best and brightest minds out there.

Boise. Who would have thunk it?

Maybe soon we will say: New Brunswick, who would have thunk it?

By the way, in comparative terms, Boise in the US is about the size of the Miramichi in the Canadian context (in relative population terms). Can you ever even imagine Miramichi having either the hutzpa or the dough to attract the top economic developer from Calgary or Halifax?

If we don’t start imagining it, we can look forward to more of the “slow burn”.