What Peterborough Needs To Do To Solve The Productivity Puzzle

With Canada suffering less than most industrial nations from the global economic malaise, we tend to think that we are ahead in the economic "game".  In fact, for more than a decade we have lagged behind in productivity—e.g. production of goods and services per worker—than most industrial nations. 

Each year, the gap between us and other more productive nations gets bigger. We talk—more like whisper—about this, but we rarely do anything concrete about it. We wait for something to happen that will turn us around. Maybe a decade of waiting is long enough. It is time to act.

In 2012, let's stop waiting for big government, bigger corporations, the rest of the world, or the "universe" to do it for us and do what it takes, right here in Peterborough, to become more productive.

Think of it this way. We, in Peterborough, have received a Christmas present—a new jigsaw puzzle. In its sturdy box, the puzzle contains all the pieces we need to solve the productivity puzzle. We've unwrapped the puzzle, looked at the picture on the front of the box, but we have not yet opened the box. Between Christmas and New Years, we've talked to family and friends about the picture on the box (no one seems to know exactly what it is—kind of abstract, it seems), so we still haven’t opened it. 

According to the instructions, there are pieces that represent aspects of the work being done at Fleming College, Trent University, PRHC, OMNR, GE, Siemens, SGS Lakefield Research, Rolls Royce, QTG Pepsico-Frito Lay, Operitel, McColl Turner, LLF, Merit Precision, Steel Works, Page Design, the City and County of Peterborough, a vibrant and creative downtown, talented and ambitious people, and enough technology to sustain much larger communities than Peterborough. 

Still, we’re talking more about putting the pieces together than actually trying to do it. We are not alone in this. Many communities are in the same situation. The competitive reality is that the community that puts the puzzle together first will reap the greatest economic benefit.

When we finally open the box and spread the pieces on the table, there is one thing we can be sure of: The puzzle will not be put together by the invisible hand of the market. It will only come together from our will to act, and the action itself.

We, in Peterborough, have all the pieces—resources—we need but we need to complete it, but we need a new way to put this difficult puzzle together. Old ways of putting puzzles together simply will not work. We need to creatively and collectively find new ways to solve the puzzle; news ways to benefit from the resources available for us to use.

And we need to do it right here in Peterborough.    


[Contributed by PtboCanada's Tom Phillips Ph. D. Phillips is Economist & Sustainability Director - Greater Ptbo Innovation Cluster.]

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