Graham goes to Bay Street

The T&T and the TJ are both reporting this morning on Premier Shawn Graham’s trip to Bay Street with former Premier Frank McKenna. I think this is great. 80% of sales is tied to relationships.

However, I really think the province has to do a lot more ‘product development’. When Frank went to Bay Street in the 1990s he was selling high unemployment (lots of workers), lots of real estate (cheap office space), NBTel (a leading telco) and relatively low cost, bilingual labour. That mix allowed him to start growing the call centre sector which has become an 18,000 employee industry in New Brunswick (if it was classified as an industry it would be one of our largest).

What is Shawn selling these days? Low unemployment, a shortage of workers in key skills areas, almost no available office space and a call centre industry with increasing turnover challenges.

So, back to my 564 posts about product development. The Premier needs to go to Bay Street with a well defined plan for workforce development, expatriate attraction, targeted immigration and other highly targeted plans for sector development so that if a firm invests here (consider RIM in NS and AIM Trimark in PEI), they will know that going forward there will be a workforce and environment here conducive to growth.

And to Anonymous’ point, we do need to seriously look at Northern NB. Not by ramming projects up there with egregious bags of money. Not by guilting firms to put plants or facilities up there. By clearly defining a value proposition and strategy for individual regions in the north (i.e. animation in Miramichi, language translation/locationization in Shippigan, wood products research and value added manufacturing in Campbellton or some such thing).

If you are selling a Lada or Yugo, no matter how good the salesperson or the cash back programs, you are still selling a Lada or Yugo. We need to work on our product and get it up to at least the level of a Hyundai or KIA. Then you have something to sell and a great sales guy/gal will get results.