by Morgan Peters

The private sector pays close attention to its expenses, but it also looks for opportunities to invest and grow. For government, holding the line on the deficit is important to keep costs to businesses and individuals from further escalating, while allowing government to invest limited public dollars in areas that provide ROI. Just as a business cannot cut its way to success, government cannot only be looking at one side of the ledger. The news this week that New Brunswick will now have the highest per capita transfer payments in the country underscores the need to not only be responsible fiscal stewards, but strategic financial investors as well.  In order to provide the services that New Brunswickers need and deserve – we must all be focused on economic growth and business success. It is a prerequisite to achieving the broader goal of vibrant and sustainable communities.  

We encourage increased government focus on leveraging our position as a hub for technology, cyber security, innovation and startups. The success that New Brunswick and specifically Fredericton have had in these areas in the past decade presents an obvious opportunity for future growth. Moving forward, the chamber is hoping to see a government statement regarding an innovation strategy that leverages our world-class post-secondary institutions and ensures Fredericton’s status as a global cyber security leader to maintain the positive momentum that has been created in this community and throughout New Brunswick. Fredericton, more than any other community in this part of Canada, is leading in the development of a knowledge-based economy. As noted in the recent UNB Innovation map, our strong PSE infrastructure is the basis of a sustainable competitive advantage, so public policy and targeted investment can make a real difference in improving GDP and population growth figures. 

The Cyber Centre currently in development by Knowledge Park is by far the top infrastructure priority of Fredericton’s business community and sets up New Brunswick to be a key player in one of the faster growing industries on the globe.  In addition to the strategic and economic impact this project will have, the Government of New Brunswick is anticipated to realize $18M in revenue by virtue of interest payments on the $30M loan provided to Knowledge Park by the provincial government to bring this project to life- a very significant ROI on taxpayer dollars. In effect, the province will gain revenue and critical infrastructure to further the significant economic growth through cyber security by private industry investment from Knowledge Park. Growing high potential sectors such as cyber security, tourism and natural resource development or increasing exporting capacity for small business will bring in ‘new’ money to the province and grow our wealth – but it might take strategic support from government to make it happen. 

Budgeting for any business, organization or government is an act in balancing, not only costs and expenses but various other interests. We believe the government must articulate its vision for growth and show results in order to maintain the support from the public for their fiscal decisions. Premier Higgs stated after the throne speech that “When we all work together to find solutions to the challenges we face; we all share in the success we achieve…”   The business community is keen to take up this call and share our knowledge and economic expertise and help shape that vision for the benefit of all New Brunswickers. 

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