Premier appoints Bob Long to head EDT, tackle NBCC
Business experience, competence and management style underlie appointment
Inuktitut may not be Bob Long’s strong suit.
But he speaks the languages of local economic development and of management very well indeed.
Premier Eva Aariak obviously had her eye on his business and management skills when she appointed Long the deputy minister of Economic Development and Transportation, effective June 22.
Long will take on day-to-day management of a department responsible to rebuild the struggling Nunavut Business Credit Corp., which has been through a series of crises in recent years, including suffering under inexperienced management and an aborted move to Cape Dorset.
While Aariak was unavailable before press-time for personal comment on the appointment, her news release stressed Long’s 40 years of experience in business, business development and community economic development.
Twenty-five of those years have been in Nunavut, Long told Nunatsiaq News.
They have been successful years.
For the last decade, Long has had a stellar record managing the Baffin Business Development Centre, a sort of younger sister to NBCC, with a focus on helping smaller businesses get off the ground.
He also served seven years as president of the Baffin Regional Chamber of Commerce, and as chair of the Nunavut Trade Show and Conference.
He has worked closely with EDT too, as chair of the NNI appeals board for the Nunavummi Nangminiqaqtunik Ikajuuti business-incentive policy for local and beneficiary-owned companies.
“In my last 25 years living in Nunavut, I have been committed to business, and to supporting the business community,” Long said.
He hinted at happier times ahead for the department. “I like to make my shop a good place to work,” he said, noting there was little staff turnover during his tenure at the Baffin Business Development Corporation.
At BBDC, he said, he supported training and development for staff, and emphasized promotion from within.
“My management style is pretty much team building and positive.”
Long said this is a good time for him to move on from BBDC because the assistant general manager, Valerie Kosmenko, “is ready to take over the management position here.”
“I’ve accomplished what I set out to do,” he said. “I’m satisfied with my 10-year career here.”
Long replaces Rosemary Keanainak, who is leaving after two years as EDT’s deputy minister, and 20 years in public service with both Nunavut and the NWT before that.
Aariak thanked Keenainak, who said in the statement that she had decided to take a new direction in her life, and “will be pursuing educational opportunities in the fall.”
Unlike Keenainak, Long does not speak Inuktitut, which signals a likely change of emphasis for this government over its predecessor.
In 2006, then-Premier Paul Okalik famously gave his deputy ministers an ultimatum: learn to speak Inuktitut by 2008 or “iqqanaijaaqajjaagunniiqtutit” (you won’t have any work any more).
Although Aariak has not said it in so many words, her actions speak loudly that, especially when it comes to economic development, business competence gets priority over language skills.
Long is looking forward to joining the Government of Nunavut, just as it begins a major review of priorities.
“It’s an interesting time to step into the department,” he said. “To be in on the beginning of something new is an exciting place to be. It should create opportunities for creative ideas.”
Long said he will not play a major role in the review, which consultants have been hired to manage, or in new direction setting. But he looks forward to implementing the government’s decisions as they emerge.
“The premier has said the things that are working we will keep, the things that are not working we will fix, and the things that are not working at all we will change.”
“I like that approach. It’s reasonable.”