Communities in the northern Nova Scotia, Cape Breton and Annapolis-Digby regions are taking a new approach to stimulating local business growth.
The Business Retention and Expansion Program is a community-based economic strategy in which experts gather specific information first-hand from businesses to identify and respond to their challenges, needs and opportunities. The information becomes part of a comprehensive database used to develop strategic plans and create a stronger business climate.
Murray Scott, Minister of Economic and Rural Development, announced today, March 4, more than $280,000 in provincial support for the Business Retention and Expansion Program to help expand the project to another six regional development authorities across the province.
"Through the regional development authorities in Nova Scotia, we are working with businesses to identify opportunities and to help alleviate barriers," said Mr. Scott. "This program is especially vital during these uncertain economic times and is an important component of the province's economic growth strategy and stimulus package."
The project is co-ordinated by the Nova Scotia Association of Regional Development Authorities with funding by the departments of Economic and Rural Development, Labour and Workforce Development and Nova Scotia Business Inc.
Six regional development authorities in central, southern and western Nova Scotia were involved in an 18-month pilot program that began in 2006.
"Now more than ever, we need to take a closer look at challenges and opportunities on a local and global scale, and help companies as they work through them," said Stephen Lund, president and CEO of Nova Scotia Business Inc. "The Business Retention and Expansion Program is valuable to the work we are doing at NSBI and, most of all, it's adding value every day to business development across the province."
Holly Boston, of the Nova Scotia Association of Regional Development Authorities, said the move is a boost for the whole province.
"Business retention and expansion is a team effort that involves the regional development authorities, our partners in business and all three levels of government," said Holly Boston, of the Nova Scotia Association of Regional Development Authorities. "Extending the business retention and expansion model to the rest of Nova Scotia will position our province as a leader in economic development and competitiveness."
The Business Retention and Expansion Program has helped Windsor-based Nova Scotia-based technology firm BioMedica Diagnostics Inc. be globally competitive despite being removed from the traditional urban centers of medical technology.
"The Business Retention and Expansion Program, via our local Hants Regional Development Authority, has been instrumental to our success by promoting our firm nationally and internationally, creating networking opportunities with international visitors, and positioning us as an ambassador for the community," said Abdullah Kirumira, chief executive officer of BioMedica Diagnostics.
In January, his firm won a World Economic Forum Award for Pioneering Technology for providing affordable medical solutions to resource-poor nations.
The Nova Scotia association is the link between the 13 regional development authorities, including the Greater Halifax Partnership, and is funded through regional development authority membership, the province and the federal government.