3+ Corporation recently held its Annual Public Meeting. Conversations highlighted economic growth in Southeast New Brunswick along with the region’s competitive advantages. While there are many reasons for optimism, speakers discussed the importance of defining and communicating our region’s assets to ensure future growth.

Greater Moncton entered 2022 with unprecedented momentum. Susy Campos, CEO of 3+ Corporation, began the meeting with some recent statistics. Notably, Greater Moncton saw record population growth, employment, and housing development in 2021. Throughout the pandemic, individuals flocked to Southeast New Brunswick, driven by the region’s affordability and charm. These new arrivals have contributed immeasurably to the region’s economic strength and vibrancy.

After Susy’s update, KPMG representatives Stephen Beatty and Omar Raza took to the podium. They echoed Susy’s sentiments. The region’s population is expanding, its GDP is growing, and momentum is on our side. Then, they discussed opportunities in two specific sectors: research and development (R&D) and technology-enabled manufacturing.

According to KPMG’s City Competitiveness Index (CCI), Moncton ranks first for research and development competitiveness among 24 mid-sized North American cities. Moncton has exceptionally competitive labour costs, facilities costs, and tax costs. Furthermore, Moncton ranks well in terms of “intangible factors”, such as quality of life.

Moncton also ranks second in technology-intensive manufacturing among mid-sized North American cities. Moncton even outranks manufacturing powerhouses like Mexico City and Los Angeles.

How can Southeast New Brunswick maintain its current momentum and take advantage of its opportunities? Omar and Stephen have some suggestions.

The region should focus on its “magnetism”. Magnetism, argued Omar, is what drives post-secondary students who leave the region to return after graduation. Magnetism is driven by core identity: “What is the world thinking about (Greater) Moncton?”. The region needs to define and communicate its core identity to achieve magnetism and continue its growth trajectory.

Continued momentum is no easy feat. Towards the end of the presentation, an attendee stood to ask the KPMG representatives a question. Our region and province don’t necessarily see themselves as an ever-changing ecosystem. How do we get past this fear of change?

According to Omar and Stephen, we must achieve a sense of “pride of place”. We are more likely to develop and maintain consensus for future development if residents are proud to be from here. KPMG has worked with other communities that resisted expansion, diversification, and change. They argue regions need strong leadership to break through these barriers and bring expansion strategy forward.

Greater Moncton and Southeast New Brunswick is starting 2022 on the right track. To continue this momentum, we must communicate our competitive strengths and define our core identity.