And the band plays on

I got quite a bit of feedback – some posted publicly and others not – on the future of this blog.

I have to admit I am losing some interest in the blog – not the subject matter – but the value of the blog vis-a-vis my time and effort to keep posting content.

I am also becoming more skeptical that things are going to change in New Brunswick. I had hoped that things would change but as I sit here almost 17 years after I first starting thinking about economic development in New Brunswick, I still don’t see any real momentum.

I have watched Ireland go from a low skills back office hub in the late 1980s to a high end financial and information technology hub. The last five major announcements of company expansions in Ireland that I have noted were all R&D-related – high end jobs.

I have watched the U.S. south build – in just 15 years – a massive auto industry. I actually wrote a proposal on behalf of New Brunswick to attract the Mercedes plant back in the early 1990s. Since that plant was sited in the southern U.S. – a dozen more assembly plants have located there in Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, South Carolina – etc. and hundreds of suppliers.

I have watched British Columbia build a strong film and digital media sector. I have watched Quebec buy its way into this sector with over $100 million worth of incentives.

I have watched New Brunswick build a call centre sector – and instead of going up the value chain (like Ireland and others) – in many ways New Brunswick has gone backwards. In the early days of the call centre initiative it was names like ExxonMobil, UPS, IBM, Xerox, Royal Bank then it become more the lower end outsourcing firms. Instead of getting Royal Bank’s hedge fund research unit, we are attracting lower end call centre jobs into rural areas (like TeleTech in Bathurst). I am not complaining about TeleTech per se, I’m just stating the facts. There was enormous potential to evolve that sector into high end data centres, financial back offices, research centres, etc.

Now we’ve got the rhetoric on overdrive and the action in park. Not that long after Bernard Lord was elected we had the Department of Economic Development split into two parts, we had an eNB initiative launched and we had an “Innovation Foundation”. All of those efforts, IMO, fizzled but at least they did stuff.

Now BNB gets a part time Deputy Minister and a $10 million cut in its budget.

You’ve come a long way, baby.

So, all this to say I will continue to post.

But one of my regular readers had a really good point. He said you folks are also coming across interesting stuff and should be submitting it to me for inclusion. That’s a great point. Why don’t you send me information (related to this blog, please – send your gardening tips elsewhere)? That way we could have a steady stream of content worth looking at.

I will say that I will be limiting my commentary on the provincial and/or federal government to actual initiatives and actual efforts. I think I have wasting my and everyone else’s time on speculation, conjecture and this wild rhetoric that we get today about “worst to first”, “best in Canada”, “self-sufficiency”.

Starting today, I will comment only in the context of “where’s the beef?”

But I still want to post good ideas for regional economic development. I realize that our friend New Brunswick Taxpayer wants to convert me back to a laissez-faire thinking on these issues but I still believe there is a role for governments and local communities to play in ensuring their communities have a strong economic base.