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UNB’s manufacturing research initiative goes online in response to COVID-19

Author: UNB Newsroom

Posted on May 7, 2020

Category: UNB Fredericton

Herb Emery

The JDI Roundtable on Manufacturing Competitiveness in New Brunswick, an economic policy research initiative at the University of New Brunswick, has announced changes to the 2020 program as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our 2020 program was very much centered around our flagship event, the JDI Roundtable Forum,” says research director Dr. Herb Emery, the Vaughan Chair in Regional Economics at UNB. The JDI Roundtable Forum is a two-day conference that combines local research and world-class manufacturing policy experts. “We know that hosting the forum is not possible this year, given the restrictions on large gatherings.

“We’re pivoting to focus on a series of smaller online meetings with manufacturing stakeholders around the province and to deliver key research content throughout the year via online delivery or small gatherings when allowed.

“We plan to return to a large in-person event in September 2021 at The Richard J. CURRIE CENTER at UNB Fredericton. Manufacturers value the chance to get together and discuss the opportunities and roadblocks of doing business in New Brunswick.”

Dr. Emery emphasizes that while COVID-19 is forcing changes to the way the team and the program operate, the research activities have actually ramped up in recent months.

“We haven’t hit the pause button,” says Dr. Emery. “Just the opposite. Our team has grown by three members and we’re building a series of reports that will be publicly released in the coming weeks.” Those interested in receiving advance notice of webinars and online research presentations should subscribe to the Atlantic Institute for Policy Research blog.

Dr. Emery says the research team has spent several months doing deep dives into topics that arose from the 2019 Forum.

“We’re exploring policy issues raised by manufacturers last year, such as taxation, the potential of special economic zones, labour needs, and how we can better support and develop our domestic manufacturing supply chain.

“We’re also preparing for a major survey of New Brunswick manufacturers that will give us information necessary to tailor policy recommendations that have the greatest impact on manufacturing productivity,” says Dr. Emery.

“Last year, there was a growing awareness of the importance of manufacturing to New Brunswick’s economy. Now, the rest of the world is looking more closely at manufacturing as a major driver of economic recovery. New Brunswick can’t afford to be left behind.”

For additional information on the 2020 program for the JDI Roundtable on Manufacturing Competitiveness in New Brunswick see unb.ca/roundtable or email roundtable@unb.ca.