Sept. 21, 2009
BATHURST (CNB) - The provincial government has created the Bathurst-based Northern Economic Development Agency, and appointed a new deputy minister for Business New Brunswick, Premier Shawn Graham announced today in Bathurst.
Business New Brunswick Minister Victor Boudreau accompanied Graham at the announcement at a luncheon hosted by Enterprise Chaleur.
"Our government has made economic development a key priority in achieving our goal of self-sufficiency," said Graham. "The measures we are announcing today will allow us to build on our successes and fine-tune our approach with greater private-sector involvement. These changes will result in new tools and incentives to attract more investment; support for New Brunswick companies; and the development of key industries for the future. Our goal is to ensure that businesses can be successful in our province."
The Northern Economic Development Agency will have a staff of about 20, and will report to the minister of Business New Brunswick through an assistant deputy minister located on-site. The agency will provide expertise to address the specific needs of the region and build new links between government and the northern business community.
The new agency will be guided by an economic action plan for northern New Brunswick. It is currently in development with the collaboration of various stakeholders, including the Conseil économic du Nouveau-Brunswick and the Association des municipalites francophones du N-B.
Graham also appointed Bill Lévesque as deputy minister of Business New Brunswick, effective Oct. 5. Lévesque, who has extensive economic development experience, will replace Phil LePage, who has held the post on an interim basis since May.
Lévesque will be responsible for renewing the department's focus on attracting business investment, and reviewing the effectiveness of current economic development programs, in consultation with business leaders and industry stakeholders.
Graham has asked Boudreau and Lévesque to provide New Brunswick's private sector with a more direct role in decisions relating to economic development. Boudreau and Lévesque will report in January 2010 with a new operational plan for Business New Brunswick.
The department's operational plan will include:
"Our plan to lower taxes for businesses and individuals is already a key selling point for companies looking to grow in a cost-competitive environment," said Boudreau. "Our corporate tax rate has already dropped by one per cent, and by 2012 it will be just eight per cent - the lowest in Canada. We must ensure that our other programs are as effective as possible in bringing new companies here and helping local businesses grow and be successful. We have developed a very clear road map for change, one that I am confident will encourage business growth in New Brunswick."
Graham said that more specific details would be available in the throne speech later this year.
MEDIA CONTACT: Communications, Office of the Premier, 506-453-2144.