Learning from PEI

PEI has issued a new five year economic development plan. Read the summary and my notes below:

A five-year innovation strategy designed to focus the Government of Prince Edward Island’s economic activities was released today.

Island Prosperity – A Focus for Change will see $200-million invested and directed into four key economic sectors: bioscience, information technology, aerospace and renewable energy.

The strategy features several significant projects, including the creation of a $30-million Island BioCommons Research Park to be located in the Charlottetown area.

“Our goal is to shape our future instead of reacting to events,” Premier Robert Ghiz said. “By focusing our resources in a meaningful way, I believe we can put our Island on a new economic path.”

The strategy was developed over the last eight months by Deputy Minister Dr. Michael Mayne, at the request of the Premier.

“Dr. Mayne has talked to many Islanders about our province’s potential and the best route to take. I am very pleased to accept this strategy on behalf of the Government. It’s now the role of Minister of Innovation and Advanced Learning Richard Brown to see this strategy implemented.”

A key feature of the strategy is accountability, Minister Brown said. “Given the level of investment, it’s very important that government make sure that Islanders know how their resources are being invested. This strategy contains a number of mechanisms to ensure that there is transparency, accountability and openness with Islanders.”

Further information is available at http://www.islandprosperity.ca/

My thoughts on this include:

PEI is not much bigger than the Greater Moncton area (the tri-county Kent/Albert/Westmorland). A $200 million, five year strategy for Greater Moncton sounds about right.

We need research anchors – like the $30-million Island BioCommons Research Park. When was the last one developed with public funds in New Brunswick? Freddy’s Knowledge park got loan guarantees I believe.

Targeting is key – four sectors – I think that might even be too many but it is far better than having no targeting at all.

All four of these sectors have some initial critical mass in place on PEI. They have attracted several biosciences firms, they have a neat little aerospace cluster, the Atl. Technology Centre was very successful and they were the first province in Atlantic Canada to get serious about alternative energy.

New Brunswick, once again, can learn from our neighbours. I like what NS has done with NSBI, with the hedge fund back offices, with the RIM project. I like PEI’s plan here – I think I will read it in full tonight after work.