The Power of Innovation and Immigration

Written by: Ron Hanlon, President & CEO, Halifax Partnership 

Halifax’s residents, businesses, and organizations are driven to succeed. Evidence of their ambition, investment, and hard work can be seen throughout the city. As the economic hub of Nova Scotia and Atlantic Canada, Halifax has a vital role in driving economic and population growth. The Partnership is committed to leading and supporting efforts to bring greater prosperity to our people, city, province, and region. We are both optimistic and realistic about Halifax’s prospects and potential. 

In 2017, Halifax experienced another great year for population growth at 1.6%, bringing our population to 431,700. Halifax’s GDP growth last year was 1.7%, lower than the target 2.9% set out in Halifax’s Economic Growth Plan 2016-21. Halifax is not growing fast enough to reach its five-year economic targets, its 15-year vision to grow Halifax’s population to 550,000 and GDP to $30 billion, or to meet the province’s growth needs.

I believe that innovation and immigration are critical to Halifax’s growth and prosperity. Innovation –committing resources in the form of time, human resources, and money to develop new products and services or to find new ways to generate value –  will allow local businesses to compete on a world stage and become more productive. Immigration will ensure we have the people our businesses and communities need to grow. This is the journey we continue to embark on: increasing innovation and immigration to fuel economic growth and development.

In 2017-18, the Partnership amped things up. We told you it was time to move forward with an all-in, go for it mindset. “Go for it” means working together to welcome newcomers and to find new ways to help businesses connect to the talent, resources, and people they need to be productive and innovative. We are actively working toward utilizing our highly educated workforce and our great post-secondary institutions to help our businesses reach their full potential.

Our companies need more support finding talent. We will focus on strategies to be more inclusive of newcomers and young talent so we can become better known as a welcoming place to live, work, and study. The Atlantic Immigration Pilot (AIP) is one program businesses can access to help attract international talent. Our Account Executives will continue to support businesses in using AIP to find the talent they need to grow.

Halifax’s Innovation District is also becoming a reality, and we are excited to be part of the driving force behind this endeavour. There are already many exciting things happening in Halifax’s innovation space: the Volta expansion, COVE opening its doors, Creative Destruction Lab-Atlantic, Dalhousie’s ideaHUB, and Saint Mary’s University’s Entrepreneurship, Discovery and Innovation (EDI) Hub, to name a few. Funding for Atlantic Canada’s Ocean Supercluster is another great catalyst for innovation in our region. Innovation brings funding, which in turn allows entrepreneurs to become business owners. These businesses drive GDP and employment growth and create technologies other companies can leverage. 

If Halifax maximizes the power of innovation and immigration in an aligned effort to grow and prosper, we will all win. We look forward to working with you towards a prosperous 2018-19.