Big box economic development

You know I am not a big fan of retail as an economic development driver.  I think it is a necessary sector but you can’t replace a pulp mill with a retail store.  That is why this quote caught my attention:

Jeff MacTavish, director of economic development for the City of Miramichi, said he’s constantly attempting to reel in some of the big fish in the world of retail to the Miramichi Power Center, and won’t rest until he succeeds.

The provincial government doesn’t do ‘retail’ development – that is left to cities which is why they all (most of them) latch on to it and “won’t rest until he succeeds”.   MacTavish would be far better served to be talking about being this passionate about other sectors of the economy.   

We need to see passion coming out of the Chi and out of Northern New Brunswick but the focus “won’t rest until he succeeds” has to be on growing the economic pie.  Retail is a fix sum game.  Communities steal some from each other (Moncton get some, Miramichi wins it bac, etc.) but at the end of the day if there are 500 pairs of shoes sold in the Chi that is the discrete market no matter how many stores are in the communit selling shoes.

We need to raise the market for shoes to 1000.  We do that by growing other sectors of the economy that inject new income into the community that lead to the need for more shoes being sold.

And we shouldn’t rest until we succeed at that.