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REF NO.: 117

SUBJECT: Harris Centre releases reports on Growing the Economy of Newfoundland and Labrador
DATE: Nov. 25, 2004

The Leslie Harris Centre of Regional Policy and Development today released two reports based on four regional workshops and a provincial symposium on Growing the Economy of Newfoundland and Labrador, held from Sept. 22 to Oct. 5, 2004. The five sessions involved the participation of over 150 individuals from throughout the province representing business, labour, community and regional development organizations and all three orders of government.

The key product of the sessions was the identification of priority actions for growing the economy of the province. Two priorities were identified in all five sessions, by many of the working groups — Governance/Planning and Human Resource Development.

Dr. Rob Greenwood, director of the Harris Centre, noted that “stakeholders in the Newfoundland and Labrador economy have taken the Irish Model of partnerships in economic development to heart. We heard repeatedly that it is not enough for government to consult with stakeholders to develop plans for growing the economy. Only if business, labour, communities and other partners help shape development plans and share in the implementation is there any chance of long-term success.” “Indeed, Mr. Greenwood added, “there was broad agreement that we have many good plans and the processes to implement them, but we must ‘stick to it’ in the long-term and work together to put them into action.”

The second priority for action that came up in all the sessions was the importance of Human Resource Development. David Vardy, the Harris Centre associate director, Public Policy, observed that “this included several aspects of education and skills development, but the factor that participants identified most as a priority was the need for better career counseling in the K-12 system.” Mr. Vardy explained that participants were very aware of looming skills shortages throughout the province, in skilled trades and professions, and after many years of surplus labour supply, we must get parents, educators, industry, and governments collaborating to enhance the understanding of youth in where there will be career opportunities in our province.” Related to this issue was a call for more focused efforts to increase return migration and immigration to the province.

Other priorities identified included efforts to enhance business and industry development, including greater use of pension funds within the province, more focus on targeting our competitive advantages, and enhanced research and development and other ways to increase innovation. Transportation infrastructure was a key priority in the sessions held in Labrador, Western and Central regions, and resolving land claims and native self-government were highlighted as critical for Labradorto advance economic development.

Dr. Axel Meisen, president of Memorial University, said “Memorial is committed to working with citizens and organizations in all areas of Newfoundland and Labrador to realize the full contribution of the university to economic, social and cultural development. We look forward to the dialogue and opportunities for further contributions that the Report on Growing the Economy of Newfoundland and Labrador inspires.”

To see the full report go to www.mun.ca/harriscentre/. The Harris Centre also released a document responding to the recommendations, listing some activities currently underway by the Harris Centre in the priority areas and inviting input and dialogue on further opportunities for Memorial University to contribute to economic growth and development in the province.

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