Attracting mini-exporters: If it’s an opportunity, treat it as one

Great conversation this week with Stephen Lund, former CEO of ONB and NSBI.  You won’t want to miss this one.  It should be out for public consumption in a couple of days.

We talked about the opportunity to attract freelance or remote workers to the province (and encourage those here to work these types of jobs).  In the fragile, post-pandemic a lot of folks are saying that footloose professionals that could live anywhere could choose to locate in smaller urban centres and even rural communities (assuming the broadband infrastructure is in place).  The value proposition for this has never been higher.

But my frustration is that we have talked about this for years.  If we think about this as a real opportunity why not treat it as such??

If you look at self-employment as a share of workers in the professional, scientific and technical services sector (as one example), New Brunswick is well below average company to the country as a whole.

If this is a bonafide opportunity, we should treat it as such.  Set up a team similar to CyberNB, give it a mandate and tools and get out there and sell, sell, sell.  There are communities across North America offering cash incentives – $5,000, $10,000 – free land, etc. to attract these footloose professionals.  What are we doing?

This comes back to my fundamental view that if a community, region or province has an identifiable opportunity to attract investment, we should give it a go.  Sure we have to balance the potential of opportunity A over opportunity B but in the end for the As, we need to take these seriously.  If we want to get back to a sustained level of economic growth and ensure New Brunswick remains a prosperous place that can sustainably fund public services, we need more investment, new industries and a big increase in entrepreneurship.