Business advantages for New England companies

Sep 5, 2002

Nova Scotia Business Inc. (NSBI) today launched an initiative aimed at introducing businesses from the six New England states to the economic and social benefits of locating components of their enterprise and manufacturing in Nova Scotia.

Over the coming months, the province's business development agency will focus on raising awareness in its biggest export market of the many competitive advantages of doing business in Nova Scotia. Those advantages include a highly skilled, available workforce, extensive technology infrastructure and a strong U.S. dollar. NSBI will also increase profile for the province's leadership position in technology and life sciences, and the natural synergies between Atlantic Canada and the Northeast United States.

We are geographically linked regions with a common heritage and language, highly educated and diverse workforces, strong health care institutions, competitive financial services sectors and internationally recognized technology legacies, said Stephen Lund, president and CEO of NSBI. We have historic ties and similar strengths, yet Nova Scotia is generally lesser known among American businesses as a competitive place to do business. With this in mind, we are specifically aiming our message to the New England market, reminding businesses there that Nova Scotia is a place where companies can operate parts or all of their operations and do so more cost efficiently and more profitably.

Strong trade ties already exist between the regions. Currently, about 80 per cent of Nova Scotia's exports are to the United States, and about half of those are to New England. Of the six states, Massachusetts is the destination of the majority of the province's exports, about 30 per cent of the total. And almost 70 per cent of those exports is natural gas from the province's emerging offshore energy industry (an industry currently producing the equivalent of 25 per cent of the natural gas used in New England).

Nova Scotia and NSBI are focused on creating opportunities for knowledge-based companies in the areas of life sciences, information technology, e-learning, advanced manufacturing and oil and gas. NSBI officials will be meeting with economic development, government and business leaders from across New England to highlight the advantages of basing operations and employees in Nova Scotia, and the benefits of partnering for U.S.-based biotech and technology companies with those from the province.

Companies that locate parts or all of their business in Nova Scotia may gain from a variety of advantages, including a downward trend in corporate income tax rates (that already are several percentage points below those of Massachusetts and New York) and R&D tax credits benefiting the life sciences and IT software sectors. And inflation has been locked at about three per cent annually nearly 30 per cent less than U.S. inflation over the past five years.

New England companies that already operate in Nova Scotia, like Keane Inc., speak highly of the business benefits. Keane has had great success in finding and hiring a highly skilled and motivated workforce to power the growth of our Halifax Advanced Development Centre, said James Brewer, director of North American delivery solutions for the Boston-based billion-dollar company. The arbitrage of the dollar has given us a cost advantage. And beyond that, Halifax is attractive because of its focus on investment in technology infrastructure and education.

Nova Scotia has the highest percentage of workers with post-secondary education in all of Canada, developing a workforce with similar skills and training as its counterparts in the United States and at considerably less cost. Brewer lauded this ready, able and skilled labour pool.

We can easily double the size of our workforce without having a challenge finding the type of resources that we need, he said. Turnover is not an issue, compared with large U.S. urban areas.

Time zone and cultural similarities are also advantages. Our customers look to Nova Scotia as being very similar to working with people in the U.S. They don't have to worry about calling people at off hours or dealing with language barriers.

Framingham-based Staples Inc., the second-largest U.S. office-supplies retailer, chose to locate a customer contact centre in Halifax for similar reasons its high-quality labour force and strong customer-service orientation. The excellent buying power of the U.S. dollar in Canada only serves to make Halifax an even more attractive location, added Joseph G. Doody, president, North American delivery, for Staples Inc.
Nova Scotia also boasts the most widely deployed, province-wide broadband network in Canada, with all businesses having access to dedicated business-class Internet service. There are more communities with broadband access than in any other province in Canada, a country second only to South Korea in broadband penetration.

For more information on these and other Nova Scotia advantages, or with specific questions on doing business in Nova Scotia, please contact CEO Stephen Lund at 1.800.260.6682 (NOVA) or email

Nova Scotia Business Inc. is a private sector-led corporation that works to expand business activity in the province. Its objectives include attracting new enterprises to the province by promoting its business advantages and helping existing businesses grow through export development and financing.