Our top export

It’s kind of funny how New Brunswickers keep showing up in the books I read.  In the last six months I have read books about Churchill, Mellon, Carnegie and T. Roosevelt and they all reference New Brunswick or New Brunswickers.   Andrew Mellon’s grandfather started in Saint John before moving to Pittsburgh.  Of course everyone knows about Max and Churchill.

My current read is a book about Theodore Roosevelt and his passion for conservation/environmentalism.  Early on in the book there is a long description of a hunting trip Roosevelt took  in Montana in the 1880s.  His guide was known to be among the toughest and respected men in the area.  His name was Jim Ferris and he is described as a New Brunswickian and you can still hear “Acadian inflection” in his speech.

Our greatest export. 

I remember a few years ago on the selection committee for the Junior Achievement Business Hall of Fame having a rousing debate about whether people born in NB but with careers elsewhere should be considered for induction.  The specific person on the docket was Louis B. Meyer but there were (are) dozens – maybe more – potential candidates.  That year, the MGM founder was nixed as a candidate although in subsequent years I see that a few ex NBers have been inducted.

The truth is that we should know about and catalogue ex New Brunswickers that found success in the wide world.  It would accomplish at least two things.  One, it would help politicians and policy makers appreciate what has been lost and why fostering an economic development environment where entrepreneurs can take off matters.  The second point is equally valid.  It would help us understand the importance of bringing in talented people and entrepreneurs from outside to help us and our efforts at economic renaissance. 

Last week I facilitated a focus group with some researchers in the province.  I was like a kid in a candy store with these guys.  But I was disheartened to hear that two of the reasons why companies like to put on clinical trials here are: homogeneity of the population and stability of the population – i.e. we are all alike and there aren’t a whole lot of folks moviing in or out.


4 thoughts on “Our top export

  1. The issue in New Brunswick, contra the critics, is not so much the people leaving. keeping them here would simply preserve the status quo – “we are all alike and there aren’t a whole lot of folks moving in or out.” It is good for people to leave their homes and travel the world and to live in more than one place. I have done it, and I think that if you look at most any successful person in the world, they have done it.

    Rather, what New Brunswick needs, and is less successful at attracting, is an influx of people. Those who started from humble beginnings in Ontario, perhaps, or out on the prairies, or perhaps the American south or a small town in Germany, and who have moved here, bringing their ideas and their values and their culture and their history with them.

  2. While travel is great, I don’t think you can generalize. Until they became premier, most of the NB ones hadn’t been too far. Irving and McCains didn’t travel to get their ‘perspective’, they travelled once they GOT successful. The problem with that claim is that it almost insinuates you CAN”T be successful unless you travel. That’s certainly not true, definitely not necessarily true. A business person is successful if they can sell, for that they need to know their clientele, and travel can sometimes be a hindrance if you go somewhere else and think ‘all people are the same’-then try to sell a product.

    ‘Success’ is also highly overrated, the vast majority of the population simply wants a decent job with a decent income and spend the rest of their time doing what they want or being with family, and I think thats normal. There are some who want to spend all their time on their passion, thats fine too.

    New Brunswick simply needs some kind of ‘change’, it doesn’t necessarily need to involve new people.

  3. I am glad to see someone else finding the interest in non fiction books. You will be amazed at what you will learn that you will never see in MSM ever. Plus the fact that nothing is ever new. Everything has already been discovered or discussed.

    Now tell us why our meathead is antagonizing Maine and the United States? Nobody ever comes out of a phony power scrap with the United States, and never will. It looks like a little boy kicking some one who appears down! We will never see the day the United States is that far down.

  4. Stephen Downes is right. We will know we are successful when we attract people to New Brunswick to grow their businesses or to launch their innovative products and services when they could have located anywhere else.

    This is not so far fetched. Once New Brunswick is recognized for excellence, rather than simply a location where you pay less tax, we will attract business in much the same way entrepreneurs gravitate (or have gravitated) to Silicon Valley, Route 128 or Ontario’s Technology Triangle.

    Currently, we are too fixated on retaining our population when we should be more interested in integrating talent from away. Incidentally, that would require that New Brunswickers be welcoming in addition to being friendly, an area where we currently do not in any way excel. And heterogeneity has its price…

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