Richard Alexander says the public and government perception of business in this province must improve.
Using a quote from Winston Churchill, the executive director of the Newfoundland and Labrador Employer’s Council told people at the Greater Corner Brook Board of Trade luncheon Wednesday that people generally perceive business as “a tiger to be shot or a cow to be milked.”
He says it’s time that changes to the steady horse pulling the wagon.
The private sector creates wealth, he said, and a vibrant and competitive business environment is critical to continued economic growth.
Alexander said public perception is significant, especially so in Newfoundland and Labrador, because it does influence politicians.
“A profitable private sector, outside investment and multinational corporations have been partially vilified by organized labour and other special interest groups,” he said, adding profit is not a dirty word.
“Profitable companies invest more in their business and community, hire more people, pay more taxes, and are better able to weather economic downturns.”
He also said profitable companies pay higher wages, and the taxes they and their employees pay fund government services and social programs.
“We need to change the public perception and create a provincial brand of Newfoundland and Labrador that is in line with our economic success, that paints the picture of Newfoundland and Labrador as a great place to do business,” he said.
Prosperity is about more than resources, said the executive director. The logic that oil, minerals and forests are all the province needs to be competitive and ensure prosperity for generations to come is flawed, he said.
“In order to truly maximize the opportunity presented to us by our resources, we need to create a competitive business environment that will encourage local business to grow and expand,” Alexander said. “We need to differentiate ourselves in a global marketplace and create a calling card to attract diverse investment that will be sustained beyond the resource boom.”
That leads to government’s public policy — something he says will either create conditions for business to flourish, die or stagnate.
“Policy that creates a competitive business environment is the only ... way to grow our economy, and ensure that our children’s generation will, at a minimum, enjoy the same level of prosperity as we do today,” Alexander said.