Timing is everything in economic development

It’s kind of obvious but for a small province like New Brunswick, timing is everything when it comes to economic development.  Take the idea of electric car manufacturing.  Just 3-4 years ago if New Brunswick had said it wanted to be in this game and went out and tried to make it happen there might have been some potential to attract a electric car manufacturer.

But now, of course, any electric car manufacturing in Canada will go to southern Ontario and it is very likely that billions more of federal money will be used to make it happen.

I am not naive.  I realize that attracting tier 2 manufacturers (the niche guys now with big potential) would have been somewhat risky but there was no chance then (and less now) of attracting Toyota, Kia, etc.

My point is not that we should’ve been into electric car manufacturing.  My point is that we need to get outfront of a few disruptive technologies or breakout industries (like aquaculture and contact centres in the late 1980s) and drive a stake in the ground. 

Everyone is talking about wind turbine and systems manufacturing.  There is massive potential there but I think the train has mostly left the station.  10 years ago we would have been (along with Quebec) first in that game in North America but now?    A U.S. state just gave $150 million to attract a turbine manufacturer and the big guys like Vestas are running advertisments on national US TV saying they are creating great jobs “right here in the USA”.   How many will come to Canada and of that number how many will come to NB? 

Tidal power is one – limited – but interesting potential.  I hope there are people at BNB brainstorming all the “what’s next” opportunities so that a lean and quick government can take advantage of them.

3 thoughts on “Timing is everything in economic development

  1. I swear to you that I didn’t read this article before I wrote the blog above:

    Why not build electric cars here?
    By ROGER TAYLOR Business Columnist
    Halifax Herald
    As the old saying goes, when one door closes, another opens. With the realignment of the auto industry, it may offer a new opportunity for Nova Scotia to once again become a player in car manufacturing. While Ontario may lay claim to the electric car business in Canada as an offshoot of the manufacture of internal combustion automobiles, that is an old way of thinking.

    There is still a talent pool familiar with car manufacturing in Halifax, which could easily be updated to build electric cars. There is a successful aircraft program at the Nova Scotia Community College, which could easily be adjusted to fill opportunities in the car industry.

    There are two things going on here. Either a) Mr. Taylor knows something the rest of us don’t or b) Mr. Taylor fell asleep in 1950 and hasn’t awoke yet. There is no way that I can see that the federal government will put a single penny into anything remotely related to auto manufacturing east of Ontario. They will spend billions to try and repopulate the industry in southern Ontario but is there anyone in their right mind that thinks otherwise (sorry, that kind of naivete is weird coming out of Atl. Canada these days)?

    Taylor ends with this:

    There is no reason why electric cars shouldn’t be built in Nova Scotia and, in fact, there are plenty of reasons why Nova Scotia is an ideal place for the manufacture of such vehicles.

    I can name at least one…..

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