Shovel ready sites

After a few depressing posts, I’ll get back to the business of economic develpment this morning. I have been tracking a growing trend – particularly in the U.S. – of jurisdictions developing ‘certified’ or ‘shovel ready’ industrial properties for large manufacturing, data centre or other uses. Site Selection magazine calls this “One of the fastest growing trends in the site location business”.

In Ireland, they are taking this further – actually constructing buildings ‘on spec’ as a lure to firms considering that country. PEI did this with the Atlantic Technology Centre – built it without tenants – and now they are having to build a second facility.

I don’t see a lot of that in New Brunswick. I don’t believe are any 200+ acre shovel ready sites just in case a large manufacturing project is looking. I don’t believe the government has invested serious funds into building or upgrading industrial/business parks in a long time. I seem to recall them putting some form of financial guarantee associated with the Greater Fredericton Knowledge Park.

It’s like anything else. You can lead, follow or ignore trends. Shovel ready sites is becoming a top trend in economic development. We can’t get out front of it. We could ignore it. But we would be wiser to follow this trend and have Certified Sites around the province – and then market these sites to potential investors.