Premier Blaine Higgs yesterday unveiled a new plan for economic growth in New Brunswick.
He said experts from across the country helped to develop the plan, which will increase the province’s population, productivity, private investment and exports.
During his state of the province address this evening, Higgs said the province worked closely with industry, the academic community and technology leaders to develop new initiatives to support an energized private sector.
“We know that with the right infrastructure, tax and policy environment, our province can become a natural magnet for investment,” he said. “We need to lessen our dependency on incentives, expand our tax base, reach one million in population and lower our median age.”
Higgs said the provincial government must be bold enough to aim higher and make the right changes to facilitate investment and spur business growth. That includes pursuing innovative technologies to boost the competitiveness of traditional resource sectors, more aggressively supporting export growth in key international markets, and focusing upon the areas where the province has a clear advantage.
These initiatives include:
- Working with the federal government to increase immigration to 10,000 people per year by 2027.
- Creating a program to help newcomers obtain faster recognition for credentials and to help them cut through the red tape of opening a business, thereby increasing the likelihood they will remain in New Brunswick.
- Launching a special service for large-scale projects to help proponents navigate the regulatory and approval process.
- Opening new offices in Europe and India to increase and diversify exports and to attract international talent and investments.
- Standardizing economic development funding to reduce duplication, improve oversight and maximize results.
- Adjusting policy and regulation to facilitate the development and introduction of emerging technologies.
- Investing in globalizing the New Brunswick brand to support export sales.
Higgs also outlined strategies to help Opportunities NB act more aggressively over the coming three to five years in order to promote growth. These include:
- Creating strategic networks that connect business in new ways across the province to take advantage of lower production costs which can result from combining their efforts for export and research.
- Supporting the growth of the manufacturing and services sectors through innovative technology.
- Attracting clusters in three emerging sectors: cybersecurity, digital health and energy innovation.
“We know that the low rate at which our businesses adopt to new technology is holding them back,” said Higgs. “So, we will help them understand, assess and adopt the tools that will enhance their productivity.”
“It is time for New Brunswick to let the world know that we are back on track,” said Higgs. “In addition to balancing the budget, for the second year in a row, the net debt is projected to go down this fiscal year by $233 million.
“We will use the approximately $10 million saved in interest each year to help address the serious addiction and mental health issues we are facing in our society,” he said.
Higgs called upon the business community to continue their efforts to support growth, embrace diversity in their workplaces and help expose young New Brunswickers to the multitude of career paths available in the province.
“Each of us needs to be a brand ambassador for this province,” he said.