Nova Scotia wins again

Alberta firm to set up branch office in Halifax
September 18, 2006

HALIFAX (CP) – An Alberta surveying firm hungry to hire talented Maritimers has devised a novel lure: set up an office in Nova Scotia that will allow young workers to stay and work near their hometowns. In a departure from the familiar story of Easterners forced to head West, Crape Geomatics Corp. of Calgary is about to announce it’s coming to Halifax, where it will hire 75 people over the next five years. Provincial officials, smarting from the recent publication of a “Move West” magazine – which urges talent from Atlantic Canada to move to Alberta – are expected to trumpet the arrival of Crape Geomatics as a sign that youth needn’t always leave for work. The jobs offer salaries starting at $53,000. The company is expected to use the employees to analyze the digital data provided from the company’s various locations, and generate a variety of maps, municipal plans, pipeline plans and agriculture plans with computer-aided technology.

There have been a dozen major economic development projects in the past six months and all of them have gone to Nova Scotia. This is just the latest in a string of high paying jobs announced for Nova Scotia.

As voters go to the polls, they woud be well advised to think about the last time there was a major economic development project announced in their community. Outside of a few $8.50/hour call centre jobs, I don’t know of many.

This is particularly problematic for Moncton where the economy has been growing based on the 7,000+ people that have been hired by call centres in the past 13 years. That growth is coming to an end.

What’s next. This should occupy the minds of the voters in Moncton. Voters who have a tendancy to think that economic growth just happens. That Moncton’s success over the past 15 years just happened.

Well, you are about to get a wake up call because growth doesn’t ‘just happen’ – unless someone finds oil or gas next to your community.

At the peak of Moncton’s success in the 1990s, there were one or two major jobs announcements every month. Now, there might be one a quarter and it is usually the expansion of an existing call centre or other firm. The number of new firms setting up in Moncton as the result of the government attracting them here – you could count on one hand in the last five years.

Already the unemployment rate in Moncton is the highest of the three urban centres in southern New Brunswick.

Don Mills says that Moncton will make or break this election.

There’s a lot at stake.