In defense of SJ – a bit

The TJ has an editorial quite critical of SJ leadership this a.m. and it uses the dreaded comparison to Moncton and Fredericton to make its point.

It’s been a good year for Moncton and Fredericton. In March, these municipalities were ranked the No. 1 and No. 2 most cost-competitive cities in northeastern North America. This week, they were listed among the 21 smartest communities worldwide. Saint John did not place on either list – and the responsibility lies with local political leadership.

Now I am all for challenging local council to be more proactive in the area of economic development and fully funding and supporting Enterprise Saint John (as well as having an internal ED officer). But these two specific points are a bit misleading.

First, the KPMG report is paid advertising. You pay to have your city included. I have to admit that I don’t know why SJ was not it but that study is not completely unbiased or neutral. You pay to get in and if you like your ranking you push it for all its worth.

Second, the Intelligent Communities Foundation program is similar in that the community has to submit its case for its intelligence. There were 400 submissions this year and Moncton and Fredericton should be congratulated for making the list of 21. But there are dozens of awards that a city can aspire to – even in the area of economic development – EDAC awards, IEDC awards, ICF awards and yes even Communities in Bloom. Cities need to be strategic and selected about which awards they target.

Saint John, for example, might be better off putting its energies into joining this group – The World Energy Cities Partnership.