At a Crossroads

> PUBLISHED April 22, 2016

Economic development can impact a town’s survival, the diversification of an economy, or the quality of life in a neighbourhood.

I would like to thank you for picking up the very first issue of the nlpost. A heartfelt thanks in fact, as this paper has been just a figment of my imagination for a couple of years, and to think that it’s now in the hands of an interested reader is pretty rewarding.


As you could probably surmise from reading the masthead, this publication will explore economic development and innovation within Newfoundland and Labrador.

But what does that mean?

Most simply, you can look at ‘economic development’ as being the culmination of things people do to grow our communities, towns, and industries – from the planning, to the implementation, to the results that follow. Yep, it might sound kind of boring, but it is a critical activity.

Economic development can impact a town’s survival, the diversification of an economy, or the quality of life in a neighbourhood. Significant factors (like oil prices) are often outside of our control, but with proper planning and execution, outcomes can be influenced and opportunities can be realized.

Let me be clear in stating that I am not in any way an authority on the subject of economic development.

These activities become even more important in a situation like the one Newfoundland and Labrador finds itself in now. In the past year, we have seen that we cannot wholly rely on revenues from our oil industry to fund the services we expect and demand. Reality has set in. When oil prices were high, we were maintaining a quality of life across the province that was (and is) unsustainable. At the same time, we are also seeing our population grow older, with little in terms of growth to help balance that problem. From a budgetary lense, the future looks grim.

The nlpost is a response to what I feel is a crossroads for our province; its aim is to openly discuss ideas on how we can achieve growth and prosperity despite these challenges. Though we collectively face a mountain of debt, great opportunities remain. But we have to be proactive in how we identify and manage these opportunities; economic development activities must be robust.

Let me be clear in stating that I am not in any way an authority on the subject of economic development. I merely have a growing interest. Through my day-job with the Newfoundland and Labrador Environmental Industry Association (NEIA), which works to grow the green economy in the province, I’ve learned enough to know that I don’t know anything.

Some years ago, long before the plunge in oil prices, I recall some alarm being raised over the expected decreases in oil production in the province and what effect that would have on our budget and our communities. The regular buzzwords were being thrown around, urging the need to ‘diversify’, ‘increase productivity’, and to ‘innovate’. My curiosity was piqued… though I understood the importance of these activities, I had no real grasp on how we all could engage in them.

This is me. No more pictures of me on this website, I promise. Ever.

And so the nlpost is a learning tool for me. I’m no expert, but I am interested in hearing from those that are. I am interested to hear from the many professionals and passionate individuals we have in this province who are doing their best to grow our economies and better our communities.

What are the opportunities for diversification? What is innovation, why is it so important, and how do we facilitate it? Given the significance of small and medium sized businesses to our communities and economies, how do we support their growth? What tools can we highlight that already exist that can help an entrepreneur go from small to large? Knowing that a dollar earned overseas has more of an impact here at home than a domestic sale, how do we encourage and facilitate businesses working internationally? What can we learn from local businesses that have succeeded? How can we design our neighbourhoods to contribute to economic development and our quality of life? What efficiencies exist at a regional level that can serve to improve the quality of our services? There are better, greener, more efficient ways to build our communities – why aren’t we using them?

These are all questions and themes that the nlpost will explore, on a monthly basis through its paper publication and 24/7 on our website at It will serve as an outlet for groups and individuals to communicate to a wide audience of interested readers, and as a resource for ambitious entrepreneurs and businesses.

The nlpost’s focus will be on non-partisan, evidence-based discussions which will help introduce you (and me) to our issues, ideas, and opportunities. The endgame is to encourage a broader conversation between the public, industry, academia, and decision-makers on issues of importance, and to increase our collective capacity to make informed decisions.

This issue, being the first, will have a lot of me in it. But going forward, I am looking forward to taking a back seat each month and cultivating great articles from local experts. Hopefully we can all learn a thing or two in the process.

If you support the aims of the nlpost, consider contributing. If you have nothing to say, consider advertising (super cheap!), or subscribing.

I hope you enjoy this monthly read, and look forward to any feedback that you might have.