That’s entertainment, folks!

I heard something funny today.  If you are standing up, sit down to read this.  Someone told me it was the strategy of the province to position Saint John as the ‘energy hub’, Fredericton as the ‘technology’ centre and Moncton as the ‘entertainment’ centre.  Hence, I guess, the casino.

You cannot build an economy on ‘entertainment’ or ‘retail’ or even ‘tourism’.  These sectors can bring people in to buy and consume but the economic value is very low as is the quality of the jobs.  Moncton’s average income is already well below both Saint John and Fredericton due to the preponderance of retail, accommodation and other lower end service jobs.  The worst positioning I can think of for Moncton would be as an ‘entertainment’ centre.

Entertainment is nice.  But it is decidedly secondary in terms of economic priorities.

Moncton made the ICF Top 7 most intelligent cities recently.  It has a tendency to keep surprising people.  I suspect that trend just might continue.

Entertainment hub?  Nah.

22 thoughts on “That’s entertainment, folks!

  1. Don’t drop that idea so fast

    If the contact center business progressed as it should have into switchiong technology, call management software and specialized statistics, those $10 jobs might be $25-40.

    Similarly with entertainment. If the shopping capital of Atlantic Canada progressed into purchasing, online merchandizing and consumer research, it might extend beyond the retail cashier jobs.

  2. Absolutely! Show me a credible economic development strategy that leads to that wider cluster and I will be the first one in line at Magic Mountain next year.

  3. It is possible to build an economy on tourism, just look at countries like New Zealand. Tourism is NZ’s largest export industry, directly employing 100,000 people. Now Moncton ain’t NZ, that’s for sure, but I’m just saying it’s possible.

  4. Obviously I do not have such an ED model in my back pocket but the thinking would go something like this.

    We don’t simply build a casino, we enter a deal with a casino security company to build a living lab for the development and testing of leading security technologies. We facilitate the set up of equipment manufacturers and work to attract other securty companies. We promote the R and D capacity of our national IT reserach institute NRC ITT. We promote workforce availability from the country’s first computer engineering program. Once the casino security expertise is established we graduate to airport security, subway security and cruise ship security.

    Perhaps a fantasy but it is good to dream once and a while.

  5. My perspective of Moncton is a transportation hub. I was surprised to read the view of Moncton as an entertainment centre.

  6. Anon 13:20.
    We should link the casino to Speilo and ALC, as well as using Oulton’s College to train security in speciality areas like gaming, technology, airport etc… It’s entirely possible, but will it be done?

  7. Orlando, seem to do well on “entertainment” and I know we get lots of “tourist” all year long stopping at the “Moncton Flea Market” and they love Moncton because of all the “things to do”. I agree with some of the other comments especially around the transportation centre. It still is the “hub of the maritimes”. Cheers, Dave

  8. @CA

    Agreed. I think Moncton would be much better aligning itself as a transportation and distribution hub. YQM showed booming passenger numbers last year. Cargo flights should also be encouraged.

  9. David, I’m not sure I agree with you when you say that Moncton’s average income is already well below both Saint John and Fredericton. First of all, Moncton is churning out MBA’s on a regular basis and there are many high level positions being created. Lord was very good to the area and Murphy is pushing plenty of work in Moncton too. Currently, there are way more businesses starting up in Moncton than any place else in the province. Good paying jobs and a strong future. The cost of living in Moncton is more reasonable than Fredericton. There is crime but nothing like the underbelly there is in Saint John. For now.

    The casino, well I think that’s just a terrible thing. Nothing good will come of this. From a social services perspective, it will be a disaster for the area. Let’s not kid ourseleves here, it won’t be just tourists that will walk into that place. There will be plenty of middle and low income residents that will go – much more often than they should. You will see the same faces there time and time again. A casino is not a place where you want regulars. Let’s hope Moncton doesn’t become the Entertainment City.

    As for the ICF Top 7 most intelligent cities – it’s nice for publicity for the city and all but their main criteria is just a measurement on how many people have access to broadband internet.

  10. I shouldn’t have generalized – there are a wide variety of income statistics (average income, median income, median earnings, median earnings for full time work, etc.). We do know from the Census that the median income for full time work in Moncton is about 5% lower than either Saint John or Fredericton. There are some really good employment opportunities in the hub city and the cost of living is the lowest of the three major urbans (mostly because of housing).

  11. While it is true that tourism figures prominently in the economies of NZ, Orlando, Las Vegas, Niagara Falls (both) and many other jurisdictions, the jobs created by the tourism sector are basically dead-end,low-paying and thankless for almost all employed, except for a very small percentage at the management end. Without paying for the honors, hotels, casinos and restaurants are not likely to be employers of the year anywhere.

    The biggest problem with tourism in NB is that, apart from the Fundy coast, there is really nothing to experience that cannot be gained from neighboring jurisdictions.

  12. Re F’ton as a tech centre: there are rumours circulating that RIM is thinking of expanding here, consequent to the take-over of Chalk. That could be great news; I was worried that Chalk might get sucked out of Freddy but perhaps my fears were misplaced. It’d be interesting to know what inducements GNB were offering RIM; in particular, is UNB involved significantly wrt upgrades of computer science and engineering labs? Hey, Mr UNB Prez, its not too late to make something actually useful from that glorified gym you’re building over there!

  13. @richard
    The “glorified gym” is absolutely necessary at UNB. If you want to attract top talent to the University, the 1940 vintage Lady Beaverbrook Gym is not a selling point. A brand new gym facing the river valley will be a centrepiece on campus.

    As someone who works out in a windowless basement weightroom and cardio studio at UNB, I can vouch that a new gym is DESPERATELY needed.

  14. Certainly a new jock spot should be a priority; immediately after the teaching facilities are upgraded to be world class. The prioties have to be on teaching. The newest buildings are a conference center and a residence (although residences are being closed due to lack of interest). Now we will have a gym. Student education seems to take a back seat to just about every other initiative. Sure I realize gyms and conference facilities provide indirect benefit but if UNB wants to be a top university, they need to prioritize education. Given a choice, a dark smelly gym is a small compromise for a world class education.

  15. I don’t think McLeans even LOOKS at recreational facilities when they make their rankings. If you look at UWaterloo almost NO emphasis is put on recreational facilities, in fact for the size of the school, its rec facilities are as poor as UNB’s. They don’t even HAVE a pool.
    But the Perimeter Institute just announced that their new co chairman is going to be Stephen Hawking. Now THAT is taking education seriously (although its true thats not ‘technically’ part of the university). When you walk around Uwaterloo let me tell you, those kids aren’t there because of athletics. For any SERIOUS student the recreational facilities mean absolutely nothing. At St.Thomas they also built a new building AND a new fancy gym, and yet still don’t even have any graduate courses in ANY of their faculties.
    The same can be said about the entertainment industry. To go that route you have to go into it seriously. If they think they can just put up a casino and tourists will flock in, they will be sadly disappointed. Most tourist centers are pretty central for tourists-New Brunswick is not. In Europe and the States you can hop on a train and be at the tourist locations in a couple of hours. I ponied onto conference trip with my wife to Switzerland, and let me tell you, just TRAVELLING in europe is a luxury. People travel to these places because its so easy. In New Brunswick, every time the US makes another passport requirement, or every time the price of gas goes up, that industry tanks.

  16. Wow, you mention Moncton and suddenly the posts go through the roof! I agree with your ongoing premise that the Province needs to attract large anchor corporations for economic development. However, lets not forget about the smaller centres, I live in Woodstock, I’d like to see a medium sized enterprise setup shop here. So while we focus on the big three, lets throw some crumbs to the second tier centres.

  17. Absolutely, Tom. Did you know that the majority of the large auto plants recently set up in the southern U.S. states went to communities at least one hour from the urban core? That sounds like Woodstock to me. Did you know that virtually all of the new large data centres built by Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, etc. are all going to smaller communities well outside urban centres? Economic development in New Brunswick needs to be broad-based.

  18. ” A brand new gym facing the river valley will be a centrepiece on campus.”

    That’s the entire problem right there. The centrepiece should be a research lab. At UNB, its a gym. I daresay your requirements could be met at a facility much more modest than this edifice to jockdom.

  19. Actually, the newest facility on campus is an indoor soccer field.

    These facilities are nice and add to the community but should only be invested in after student teaching facilities (and faculty) are world class and after the university is prepared to stop begging for money.

    Right now the students learn in dumpy classrooms and labs and hardly a day goes by where the university is not looking for more money. There is an identity crisis with Canadian universities; if not them, who will provide advanced education?

  20. I recently graduated from UNB and I’m utterly dissapointed in where the money is spent. I’m not completely against the new gym, it definitely needs to be updated and the kinesiology department is a big draw to UNB, and growing, I believe. But when they shut down residence buildings just as they build a bigger, uglier building with no history and less character, I just don’t understand. And they are begging for money? Hopefully a new president will be able to turn things around….

  21. “That’s the entire problem right there. The centrepiece should be a research lab. At UNB, its a gym. I daresay your requirements could be met at a facility much more modest than this edifice to jockdom.”

    If your opinion of world-class kinesiology research is “an edifice to jockdom”, then I guess we’re on two separate planes. UNB has an excellent biomedical engineering program that draws on the university’s kin department. If you’ve been in any of the Kin research labs, you’d realize that they desperately need better equipment and space. The Currie Centre provides such.

    You’re going to have a tough time drawing top kin talent to UNB if we degrade their faculty as limited to “jocks”. Should we thus decry any addition to Head Hall as a “Tribute to Nerdology”? I also imagine that the most obese province in Canada can certainly use any additional recreational facilities it can get.

  22. “world-class kinesiology research ”

    Given the state UNB is in, I’d say it has to pick and choose; kinesiology is not a choice I would make.

    “the most obese province in Canada can certainly use any additional recreational facilities it can get.”

    Gee, do you mean that I’ll get to use it for free??

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