04 July 2008

Change and Challenge: Chapter Four - Creating a competitive edge (1)

Creating a competitive edge is essential to improving our standard of living. Indeed, as the global economy changes, improved competitiveness will be necessary simply to maintain our present standard of living. To meet the legitimate expectations of our citizens about income, employment and public services, we must sell high value-added, competitively priced, quality goods and services that meet the needs of customers in local, national and international markets. Consequently, we must add value in our existing resource industries, consolidate them, develop new resource opportunities such as offshore oil and gas, and aggressively pursue high value-added opportunities in manufacturing and the services sector.

Government recognizes that it has a responsibility to work with other orders of government, business, labour and academia to create an environment which supports enterprise and economic development. Consequently, support policies will focus on developing the Province's entrepreneurial base; educating and training our labour force; creating a positive labour-relations climate; reforming the income-security system; encouraging product and process innovation; introducing new tax incentives and marketing programs; and providing a quality of government service which attracts investment and welcomes businesses.

Developing the Entrepreneurial Base

Government realizes that to generate wealth, the creativity, imagination and entrepreneurial drive of our people must be nurtured and harnessed. The entrepreneurial base of the Province requires both a balance of domestic and non-resident capital and expertise, and a mixture of small, medium and large enterprises selling goods and services in local, national and international markets.

It must be recognized, however, that we do not yet have an adequate entrepreneurial base. While Newfoundlanders and Labradorians have always been resourceful, our history of trading unprocessed commodities and our protectionist philosophy have restrained the development of the entrepreneurial spirit which is so necessary in these economic times. Because of our focus on selling primary resources, we have only limited expertise in marketing value-added goods and services, particularly in export markets. Consequently, we lack a marketing orientation. Recognition of Newfoundland and Labrador products in national and international markets is, for the most part, non-existent. Further, recent surveys indicate there is very little recognition of Newfoundland and Labrador products even within the Province.

The lack of a dynamic and thriving entrepreneurial base also contributes to the perception that Newfoundland and Labrador does not offer attractive investment opportunities, and this makes it difficult to leverage external investment. The Government is determined that these circumstances and the negative attitudes associated with them can and will be changed.

Provincial policy for rural and regional development will be directed towards stimulating the self-reliance and enterprise that have historically characterized social and economic life in rural areas. In addition to emphasising large, technology-based export industries, Government is committed to creating an environment that nurtures and supports all enterprise, including small-scale and home-based initiatives that turn the traditional strengths of the rural and household economies into commercial businesses.

Although the value of household, home-based activities is not included in formal economic measurements, it is significant and these activities will continue to play a vital role in developing a stronger enterprise culture in the market economy, particularly in rural Newfoundland and Labrador. In this regard, Government also recognizes the important role credit unions and producer/worker cooperatives play in fostering social and economic development in rural areas.

For economic development to succeed, we must provide our entrepreneurs with the opportunity to develop their managerial, technical, financial and marketing skills, help them turn good ideas into viable businesses, and promote our Province as a place which welcomes and supports outside investment. We will also recognize and promote our successful firms and entrepreneurs, both within the Province and outside, as part of an overall strategy to enhance the image of the Province. We will introduce our young people to the benefits of entrepreneurship through enterprise education in our secondary and post-secondary systems and we will provide adequate training to aspiring entrepreneurs. Through more co-ordinated Government efforts, we will encourage and support enterprises to seek out and penetrate national and international markets. We will aggressively pursue new investment to ensure that our core resource industries are maintained, especially investment in value-added activities, that new resource opportunities such as oil and gas are developed, that new manufacturing opportunities are pursued - especially those which are marine-related - and that services-sector opportunities, notably in tourism and professional services for export, are developed.

Strategy Statement. The Province will undertake measures to introduce students to the benefits of entrepreneurship; will provide appropriate training to aspiring entrepreneurs; will recognize and promote the success of local enterprises; will promote and assist local enterprises to develop and market their products in national and international markets; and will promote the Province's attractive investment opportunities, supportive investment climate and unsurpassed quality of life.

Actions. To implement this strategy, the Province will:

1. Support entrepreneurship by:

  • instituting a Province-wide promotional campaign in support of entrepreneurship and developing an enterprise culture;
  • expanding enterprise education throughout the school system;
  • encouraging Memorial University, through the Faculty of Business Administration, and the Community Colleges to expand business skills training to entrepreneurs in the Province;
  • supporting changes to the income security system, in cooperation with the Federal Government, that will strengthen entrepreneurship; and
  • encouraging and supporting the growth of home-based businesses,
    producers' and workers' cooperatives, credit unions and commun­
    ity-based development corporations.

2. Work closely with other orders of government to remove barriers to entrepreneurship, such as changing land-use regulations and the tax system; and implement changes to programs, policies and regulations under its control in order to promote and attract investment for small, medium and large-scale enterprises.

3. Develop and maintain comprehensive data bases on product requirements in various key markets (Canada, U.S., Europe, Asia) and make such data more easily available to the private sector.

4. Develop and deliver, in close cooperation with the private sector, a campaign which establishes the Province nationally and internationally as a supplier of top-quality goods and services, especially its broad range of marine-related and derived products.

5. Establish a Trade Development Council to improve private and public sector capability in international trade and marketing, and to provide advice to Government on trade-related issues.

6. Immediately institute a program to upgrade Government employee skills and knowledge of trade development to facilitate a significant new thrust in trade development services; where possible, Government will use secondments and exchanges to supplement in-house capabilities.

7. Assess its full range of financial support instruments for business to determine if they are inappropriately sustaining industries or enterprises which are not economically viable, and to redirect their use to support the priorities of this strategic plan. Where appropriate, efforts will be made to direct financial assistance programs away from loan guarantees and grants, and toward equity investments which give businesses a better opportunity to succeed.

8. Use its financial assistance programs to ensure that businesses receiving assistance have the necessary management and marketing skills to operate successfully, that quality assurance and control are integral aspects of production, and that productivity through training and upgrading of workers is emphasized.

9. Accelerate programs and activities which facilitate joint ventures, technology licensing, co-manufacturing and other forms of industrial cooperation and investment.

10. Undertake a long-term promotional campaign to educate Canadians about the positive attributes of our Province's economy, work ethic, culture, lifestyle and geography, and to promote the Province's business opportunities in key investment markets in Canada and throughout the world. Government will also improve awareness of Newfoundland and Labrador in key Canadian foreign posts and enlist their pro-active participation in our investment promotion activities.


Change and Challenge: Chapter 4(2)