► the history
► the economy
► the people
► the culture
► the reality
► now what?
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Seen from the rest of Canada, the economic health of New Brunswick and the maritimes in general, does not have a great reputation. The maritimes are often considered the economic stepchildren of the rest of the country. There is some justification for this stigma because the economies of the region do have some systemic problems. Historically, these problems have been addressed by a series of ad hoc programs that up till now have been spectacularly unsuccessful.
Some of the more dramatic failures can be attributed to the federal Department of Regional Economic Expansion, popularly called DREE. We won't go into all the details of this boondogle which was finally terminated in 1982. In a nutshell, the problem with DREE as with so many other federal programs designed to alleviate economic disparities across the country boiled down to politics and power and their negative impact on the maritimes.
That Giant Sucking Sound...
In any event, much of this is water under the bridge and today much of the infrastructure of provinces like New Brunswick is sustained in part by the transfer payments that are part and parcel of our federal system. What we shouldn't overlook however, is that there are a number business enterprises in the province that are doing quite nicely, thank you very much. Some of these may be subsidized by various government hand-outs, but probably no more so than businesses in other parts of the country.
There are the prominent players, of course, but there are also many small and medium sized businesses that carry on without any fanfare and make a major contribution to the province's economy. Of the major players, one of the more ubiquitous is the large family of companies under the collective Irving umbrella. Begun many years ago by a frugal and enterprising scottish presbyterian by name of K.C. Irving, the various companies which are today controlled by the family are into petroleum refining and distribution, lumbering and wood processing, and food processing to name but a few.
Another very successful company with world-wide distribution and manufacturing is McCain Foods of Florenceville, New Brunswick. From Europe to Australia, the McCain name has become synonymous with french fries. Then in St. Stephen in the south-western corner of the province is the candy and chocolate manufacturing empire of the Ganong family. Also in St. Stephen, is the New Brunswick operation of Flakeboard Company Limited, and in Black's Harbour, Cooke Aquaculture who through its wholly-owned subsidiaries, processes and sells more than 115 million pounds of Atlantic salmon and 35 million pounds of trout each year. .
No help wanted...
First of all, the current economy in New Brunswick does have a pretty solid base on which to build a future. Folks like the Irvings and McCains are not about to leave because they live here and their roots are here. Besides, like so many other native entrepreneurs, they're doing pretty well. In addition, they know what most of us know, that New Brunswick is a great place to live. So if you want to join us, you may have to create a niche that works.
If you have a skill, or better still an existing business, that you can exploit and operate anywhere there's a good infrastructure, you could do that here. Good roads, transportation, telephone and internet access, and a great quality of life make New Brunswick very attractive. Clean air and water, a less crowded space, and a whiff of the sea can do wonders for the spirit.
What's in it for me...
These factors take on less importance when a knowledge-based economy is added to the mix. Good to excellent internet access, good roads and other infrastructure and easy access to major U.S. centres such as Boston make New Brunswick an excellent place to live and prosper. Why not take a look for yourself?Also Read:
►Province of New Brunswick - Department of Finance
►Province of New Brunswick - Resources for Business
This content was written by Henry (Hank) Mulder. Born in the Netherlands, Henry lived in several provinces before settling in New Brunswick.
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