Southern Region Reaps Benefits Of Opportunities For Prosperity

first_img In 1999, the government of Nova Scotia did something radical: Itrecognized that ad hoc, piecemeal efforts to grow the economyweren’t working. It recognized that a strategic, co-ordinated andfocused economic growth strategy was needed — a strategy thatwould involve other levels of government, business and thecommunity. In October 2000, Opportunities for Prosperity — Nova Scotia’sgrowth strategy — was born. Today, that strategy has positivelyaffected every region of the province. The numbers tell the story. The first chapter of that story begins with the number ofbusinesses in existence. In 1993, according to StatisticsCanada’s business register, there were 28,922 businesses in NovaScotia. By 2003, there were 52,085 business in the province. If the southern area of the province is singled out, the numberscontinue to be positive. In 1993, according to the register,there were 4,347 businesses in the area. By 2003, that number hadgrown to 8,400. This growth can be attributed to the ingenuity of our workforce,and the fact that the government of Nova Scotia has provided anumber of tools to help small business, and rural Nova Scotia,grow. The Small Business Loan Guarantee Program is one example. Sincethe program began in June of 2003, more than $3.4 million hasbeen put into the hands of 42 businesses which have employed 211Nova Scotians. This $8-million program is in place because smallbusiness was clear that access to capital was a problem. Theprovince agreed and put a solution in the hands of the creditunion system — and in the hands of Nova Scotia’s communitiesthemselves. Community Economic Development Investment Funds, or CEDIFs, arealso helping improve the economy across the province. The province recognized that more than $600 million is investedby Nova Scotians in RRSPs, with less than one per cent findingits way back into Nova Scotia’s economy as reinvestments. Itcreated the Community Economic Development Investment Fundprogram to encourage more people to make investments at home,making the 23 funds currently operating a made-in-Nova-Scotiaplan to local investment. The program allows communities to putideas, and people, to work. To date, $10 million has beeninvested in these funds, most of which has been reinvested inbusinesses within their communities. Since the number of businesses is on the rise, it makes sensethat employment numbers are up as well. In 1993, there were352,100 Nova Scotians working. In 1999, there were 388,000. By2004, there were 421,500. More importantly, the participationrate — or the number of people entering the workforce — grewfrom 58.2 per cent in 1993 to 61.7 per cent in 2004. The latest seasonally adjusted figures from Statistics Canadacontinue to indicate an upward trend. More than 449,200 NovaScotians were working in the month of May, an increase of 3,700people over the previous month. In the southern area — which includes the counties of Yarmouth,Digby, Queens, Shelburne and Lunenburg — 47,200 people wereemployed in 1993. By 1999 that number had grown to 52,200. And,in 2004, there are 55,300 people employed. The participation rates have grown in this area as well, from52.4 per cent in 1993 to 60.3 per cent in 2004. The unemploymentrate has fallen from 12.4 per cent in 1993 to 11.9 per cent in2004. There is more work to do. Regional unemployment rates are stillunacceptably high, but steady progress is being made. Regional development authorities are helping guide that progress.The province of Nova Scotia helps fund 13 regional developmentauthorities around the province because successful efforts togrow the economy are driven by the communities themselves. In the southern area of the province, regional developmentauthority representatives include Frank Anderson in Yarmouth(902-742-3210) and Neil Emenau in Lunenburg (902-543-0491). Input and ideas are also welcome at Nova Scotia Business Inc.(NSBI), an organization borne out of Opportunities for Prosperityand mandated to take a client-focused, private-sector approach togrowing the provincial economy. It does so by developing theprovince’s exports, attracting investment from companies outsideNova Scotia and providing tools for companies to help themrealize growth opportunities. Since it was created in November 2001, NSBI has met with 750businesses across the province. Its business attraction andfinancing clients aim to create or maintain at least 7,200 jobs. Last year alone, the organization helped 230 companies increaseexport sales or find new markets. Companies interested in growthopportunities through NSBI can contact Irvin Surette (902-742-0533). -30- ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT–Southern Region Reaps Benefits OfOpportunities For Prosperitylast_img