Business leaders visit for first time: Halifax, NS10/5/2012
A delegation of New England business leaders is making its first trip as a group to the Halifax area this week.
Established in the 1980s, the New England-Canada Business Council made one previous trip as a group to Canada, visiting Ottawa in 2008.
That changed Wednesday night when nearly two dozen business and industry leaders touched down in Halifax for three days of meetings with their Maritime counterparts.
Led by Patrick Binns, former premier of Prince Edward Island, and current Canadian consul general to New England, the group is using the trip as an opportunity to network and discuss topics of mutual interest related to energy, border, immigration, health sciences, transportation and aerospace.
“There’s already that nexus that was forged before we came here without really having it effectuated, and I think it’s this trip that will make that happen for continuation,” said Ellen Kief, a member of the council’s board of directors and one of the chief visit organizers.
Describing their welcome to Halifax as “overwhelming,” Kief said the group would be looking at making regular visits to Canada, including more trips to the Atlantic provinces.
“Some of the people in our group from NECBC have never been here before, yet they do business with Canada, but the Atlantic provinces really hasn’t been necessarily on their radar,” she said Thursday.
“So for New England and Canadian relationships to develop and foster, we would like to do more regular travel and meet groups in the different provinces.”
Because the group’s itinerary precluded them from visiting Prince Edward Island, group m5 and Cape Consulting Group hosted an event at the Halifax Citadel on Thursday with island Premier Robert Ghiz as the keynote speaker.
Following his 17-minute speech, in which he spoke of the island’s commitment to education and its push to diversify the economy from the three main pillars of fisheries, tourism and agriculture, Ghiz said it is important to forge relationships.
“If we don’t, and you lose them, I think it’ll be detrimental.”
Working and meeting with groups such as the council is constructive and positive for people on both sides of the border, Ghiz said.
“Any time that we can work together with our neighbours in the New England states is extremely important, similar to how we work together now in Atlantic Canada.
“There’s no point in us being huge competitors with one another. We should find ways where we can work together, realize that we have a relatively small population base here on a worldwide scale, and it will make us more competitive globally.”
Ghiz said as the island strives to expand in emerging industries such as aerospace, biosciences, information technology and renewable energy, it will also focus on improving its educational institutions to create a skilled labour pool.
“You talk to different companies today, and they’re looking for the best possible trained workforce. And, as I say in P.E.I., we’re not going to hit oil wells, so what we do have are people, and we’re concentrating on that to bring (companies) in.”
(The Chronicle Herald)