Journalists and economic development

I was just thinking about that previous story of Dubuque, Iowa and 1,300 IBM jobs and wondering what would be the best way to get a detailed analysis of how that happened.  What is the backstory?  How did IBM get interested in such a small town?  Was there some connection?  Who led the sales effort?  How did they make the case?  Did the Iowa Governor woo the IBM CEO? 

It seems to me that a good investigative journalist would be best positioned to skulk around and get this type of information.

We should look at setting up some kind of fund – independent because journalists want to go where the story takes them for good or bad – that would give NB journalists the opportunity to go out and do this kind of story or series of stories on how podunk places like Dubuque, Iowa are able to attract such large ED projects and what are the lessons for pudunk places like New Brunswick.

Remember the CBC’s Jacques Poitras’ series of stories from India a few years back on back offices and offshore outsourcing and the implications for New Brunswick?  Could we institutionalize this kind of thing?  Imagine if we could get 7-8 deep background stories per year on how ED gets done but folks who are trained on how to research and write this type of story.

Now we just need a non-governmental entity and a hundred grand or so to get it done.

Ideas.  I’m just throwing ideas around to see what might stick.

4 thoughts on “Journalists and economic development

  1. From the Dubuque Register:

    “Dubuque city leaders will be asked to provide about $5.6 million in assistance. The amount includes a 20-year property tax rebate.

    Dubuque Initiatives, a local economic development group, plans to buy and rehabilitate a Depression-era building in downtown Dubuque, called the Roshek Building. The group’s lease with IBM would provide a nearly $25 million break on the cost.

    The state said the IBM grant would be the richest one Iowa has provided, outpacing the $10 million grant Wells Fargo and Co. received in 2003. Wells Fargo created 2,000 jobs and invested about $360 million into a new headquarters in West Des Moines.”

    It looks like it boils down to the public providing IBM with loan guarantees, renovating a building for them, and giving them a 20 year tax holiday. In all, Dubuque and Iowa provided ~$53 million in incentives.

    We’re building a ~$70 million convention complex in downtown Fredericton. Dubuque got 1300 jobs for $53M, we’re getting a dozen or so for $70M.

  2. It will probably cost more than that, and you have to look at other concessions. Mainly because IBM is closing plants elsewhere in the states-especially their large one in Vermont. Tax rebates are usually the least of it, when a company is looking to relocate they look at numbers, but they also look at a state and city’s ‘environmental stance’. Some states like Vermont have strict regulations for their environment, others couldn’t care less. That’s true that investigative journalism would uncover that kind of information, but investigative journalism is a rare thing nowadays.

  3. Maybe SkillSoft could give one some answers as it packs its bags and heads back to the U.S.
    No appearances that this company is in trouble.But there is a problem somewhere?
    Oh well,a province that looks at its contractors as thieves!

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