- Fredericton’s talent pool of top-notch executives and a focused workforce can compete with and even surpass that of the United States.
- For many small and growing businesses, access to great talent is the biggest attractor for setting up operations in a location.
- Fredericton could improve its accessibility to become even more attractive to companies looking to invest.
While Fredericton impresses with its amazing talent pool, it continues to pose some challenges to investors in terms of its remoteness. Current government incentive schemes can be rehashed to direct more capital to improving accessibility. Startup and tech communities from the United States will jump at the chance to establish themselves in Fredericton if there was more connectivity.
What makes Canada attractive to foreign direct investment and what are some of its strengths and weaknesses?
The answer is very simple: people. The reason why we came to Fredericton was we hired an incredible Chief Revenue Officer there. Appcast was in its early stages but growing very quickly. We engaged an executive search firm to help us find a Chief Revenue Officer and we interviewed people from all the major tech hubs in the United States: Boston, San Francisco, Austin, and New York, and quite candidly, by far the best guy that we spoke to was from Fredericton, New Brunswick.
The old saw that people are what make the business—it is true. At least, it has been for Appcast. The reason why we came to Canada is we think we found the best Chief Revenue Officer in North America to help us grow.
Can we extrapolate that to Canada or is it just a coincidence that you found the right talent?
I remember the board meeting where I came to the board and said, “I found my guy!” They asked, “Where are they located?” and I said Fredericton, New Brunswick, and you could have heard a pin drop. We had to get a map out. We got it out, and we saw that it was right there. They said, “We’re really glad that you found this guy, but can you build a business up there, Chris?”
That is where the next layer of people comes in. The reason we love Fredericton is for the investments that the province and city have made in building three fantastic universities. You have an educated workforce that works hard and is really focused.
The reason we love Fredericton is for the investments that the province and city have made in building three fantastic universities.
Interestingly, going back to some of the telecom outsourcing on outbound sales and inbound support, there were existing talent pools that were really ripe for what we were endeavouring to hire there. Once I gave the presentation that said that actually, Fredericton has a talent pool that is wide and deep; not only can we find a leader there, but we can build a really outstanding team around him, that all of a sudden it made the decision really easy.
How would you characterize Fredericton’s tech ecosystem and how attractive is it to foreign investors?
Honestly, the tech ecosystem that I am interested in is the go-to-market teams that exist for big companies that are around Fredericton: Radeon Six, Salesforce, Skillsoft, and IBM’s Oracle. The teams that they have in the city create a really vibrant talent pool for what we are doing, which is building an enterprise sales organization out of Fredericton. The reality is that the talent ecosystem is just critical to our decision to invest in New Brunswick.
What sort of government incentives or support programs are available right now for entrepreneurs, business development, and foreign investment?
We have an incentive scheme where we get a rebate on the growth of payroll that we bring to the province. It is a time-limited thing for four or five years—I am not exactly sure. The incentive scheme is great. It allows us as a small and growing company to invest more and to think more long-term with some of the hires we make. The bottom line is that it is of tertiary level of importance to us. It is nice to have—it maybe means that we get to grow a little faster in Fredericton, but the most important thing is the people that are there.
The incentive scheme is great. It allows us as a small and growing company to invest more and to think more long-term with some of the hires we make.
The challenge with Fredericton is its remoteness. The people are great, but it is hard to get there. One of the things that I have thought about is the structure of those programs and whether or not the money is going to the right place. The Boston startup community is looking for talent like you have in Fredericton, and would tap into it instantly, if it was more accessible. From an economic development standpoint, that would be a better use of capital.
If you had 30 seconds to pitch to someone in a position of power to strengthen and improve Fredericton’s foreign direct investment attractiveness, what would you say?
You have got my answer: Air Canada flight non-stop, from Fredericton to Boston, twice a day. There you go.