Business leaders say private sector, not government, grows jobs

Teresa Wright
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Ron Keefe, chairman of the Island Advance advisory board, speaks at a funding announcement for phase two of work being carried out by the organization. Island Advance is a province-wide program working to spark interest and excitement in creating new businesses to spur economic growth in P.E.I.

Ron Keefe, chairman of Island Advance says Island needs economic development, but government is not answer

It is not government’s job to grow jobs and the economy – it should be up to the private sector, according to the chair of a provincewide business initiative aimed at boosting the P.E.I. economy.

Ron Keefe is the chair of the Island Advance advisory board, which has been holding forums and conferences to try to increase entrepreneurship across the province.

He says the Island does need to grow its economy, but government is not the answer.

“Our position is that we need to engage the private sector more to push the economy forward,” Keefe said.

“The fact of the matter is government can’t commit an overabundance of resources. We have other things that we need to do with public monies in terms of funding health and education. The only way we can ensure that happens is if we grow a private sector-led economy.”

Island Advance was established as a provincewide initiative of the Greater Charlottetown Area Chamber of Commerce in an attempt to spark interest and excitement in creating new businesses and enterprise to spur economic growth in P.E.I.

This initiative has a three-point action plan it believes will help the private sector to move the economy forward: engage with entrepreneurs; ensure local businesses have access to capital; attract newcomers to invest in and become actively involved in the Island’s business community.

The first part of this action plan was tackled in 2014 and 2015, with several heavily attended events that offered Island entrepreneurs networking opportunities and practical advice on the start-up environment in Atlantic Canada.

The initiative is now entering its second phase, which will focus on the need for entrepreneurs to have access to capital funds and continue to try to engage with newcomers to P.E.I.

Keefe stressed the most ideal capital investments would come from private sector businesses and investors.

But they certainly won’t say no to government money.

A funding announcement held Wednesday heralded a $250,000 contribution from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and another $162,000 from the P.E.I. government toward the Island Advance project.

Charlottetown MP Sean Casey, who formerly served as president of the Charlottetown Chamber of Commerce, stressed his belief that small- and medium-sized businesses are the job creators of the Canadian economy.

Keefe says it’s a formula that has been proven.

As the retired CEO of the bioscience company BioVectra, Keefe says his company grew from 100 to over 270 employees over a six-year period, and in that time grew its exports tenfold.

“We now have 270 employees here on P.E.I. that pay a significant amount of taxes and engage in the community of P.E.I. That’s where job creation is going to happen. You can’t expect governments to create jobs,” he said.

“The way governments help is by a favourable tax regime, and I maintain, and people may not agree, personal taxes should be high for people with wealth, but I think business tax should be low.”

Island Advance will be holding a conference later this month for investors, presenting various models for investment in local companies and entrepreneurs.

Organizations: Island Advance advisory board, Greater Charlottetown Area Chamber of Commerce, Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

Geographic location: P.E.I. That, Charlottetown, Atlantic Canada

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Recent comments

  • no thanks
    February 12, 2016 - 15:45

    AND WHERE DO BUSINESSES GET THEIR PNP MONEY , -- yes -- there is need for capitals about this ARROGANCE--

  • Common Sense
    February 12, 2016 - 15:06

    To add to the common perception: If it's the private sector that grows jobs, why does the private sector require public tax dollars to grow private business? Not to say Ron Keefe (Island Advance advisory board) is wrong. But, until his contradictions are explained, he appears to be either deceptive or foolish.

  • Cromwell
    February 12, 2016 - 10:35

    I continue to be amazed with the oft-presented attitude of Mr. MacLauchlan who believes that the future of PEI rests with the continued immigration of Chinese and Syrians. Given the current increasing unrest in Europe, with the mass immigration of Islamists, surely there has never been a better opportunity to actively encourage disenchanted European businesses to relocate to PEI - you remember Europeans? - generally Caucasians, Christian, speak either English or French, good work ethic and without any undue sense of entitlement. However, under our current regime, I'm not sure if they would even warrant appropriate consideration since they would likely not be classed as 'Newcomers'.

  • Quiet Observer
    February 12, 2016 - 09:40

    The mindsets of the commenters here is exactly why PEI is in the dire straights we are. Everyone wants to sit back and have the government hand them jobs, EI, money or whatever, rather than work for a living. Face it folks, government cannot create jobs other than hiring more bureaucrats, simple as that. And with budget deficits, government is laying off bureaucrats, not hiring them. The only place new jobs are going to come from is the private sector. It is governments job to create an atmosphere that encourages private sector job growth, not discourage it. As long as PEI maintains the defeatist attitude of relying on government handouts for jobs, we are going to continue to have the highest unemployment rate in the country, the lowest average wages, and the highest taxes. We need private sector growth, not a mentality of freeloading.

  • townie2
    February 12, 2016 - 07:27

    ironic, they take Government money but no one else should work for the Government. perhaps if some of these private businesses paid more than minimum wage........ i also don't hear the right-wing Canadian Taxpayers Federation or CFIB screaming from the rooftops about waste of taxpayers money given to this group, guess its alright as long as it goes to their own.

  • don
    February 12, 2016 - 06:23

    Ron if not for government a lot of business's would not have the millions they have like from the PNP..

  • Matilda
    February 11, 2016 - 21:57

    I'm sure it must have been an oversight on their part that Mr. Keefe and Mr. Casey forgot to mention how their companies benefited from PNP as well.

  • jill
    February 11, 2016 - 20:27

    Won't sell here on PEI. Too many feel entitled to a job given to them for their vote. And politicians take advantage of that thinking.

    February 11, 2016 - 18:37

    This is really rich. Ron Keefe, chairman of Island Advance says Island needs economic development, but government is not answer.He says its not up to the govt. to grow jobs, it is up to entrepreneurs, as he speaks at a gathering after taking $412,000. from the government.. Some entrepreneur group he heads. I guess what he means is he is truly an entrepreneur as he is able to get $412,000. from the government. Kind of weird logic, but hey, this is PEI.

    • don
      February 12, 2016 - 06:26

      then tell us why the liberals have given tax cuts etc to big companies in the past and what has wade promised the new company coming from his recent trip??