Halifax Mayor Mike Savage came to Toronto in June to share a message and change perspectives– the city is very different than it was even five years ago and those who have moved away should take a look back east for new opportunities.
“We are proudly East Coast and right now we have one of the three fastest growing urban economies in Canada. It’s a great time to be a part of what’s happening in Halifax,” said Savage.
Fast growing and looking to maintain that momentum – Halifax has an ambitious strategy with goals of growing the population to 550,000 and GDP to $30 billion by 2030 (that’s 1.7% and 2.9% annually respectively).
Key to growth will be the technology and innovation sector. “I believe our city has all of the right ingredients to further develop its strong start-up community and broaden the ICT sector,” said Savage. High profile sales of companies like Radian6, Ocean Nutrition and GoInstant appear to back that up.
Seeking advice to grow the sector further, Mayor Savage and an economic development team from Halifax took part in a Technology Round Table hosted by East Coast Connected (ECC). Chaired by ECC founder and RedIron Technologies VP Chris Crowell, the Round Table brought together a small group of senior leaders from Toronto-based growth stage technology companies– most with an affinity for Nova Scotia already.
“There are many highly successful people with ties to the Maritimes in Toronto’s technology sector –many could be in a position to consider Halifax for expanding their company’s footprint,” said Crowell. “They need to know they will have access to the infrastructure and talent their company will need to be successful.”
Jennifer Franklin recently returned to Canada after a stint in Silicon Valley. She is VP Business Development at LifeWorks.com and was impressed with what she heard at the round table. “My perspective on Halifax and doing business there was changed. It is not the same city I grew up in. It is a place I could consider locating and building a team.”
Another participant, Bryan Watson, a partner with Flow Ventures, is actively working with US companies looking to open a Canadian location. “If they are looking for a city with strong talent and the infrastructure to support them Halifax is an exceptional option and should be seriously considered.”
Ron Hanlan, President and CEO of the Halifax Partnership acknowledges the significance of positive comments like these. “Engaging people with ties to our city and region to change perspectives, and to be ambassadors of the good things happening will be key.”
He adds, “There has been a lot of success in the technology sector and that is scaling with the creation of a new innovation infrastructure in the city. We hope to build on the momentum of the tech round table and identify opportunities to brings some of Nova Scotia’s sons and daughters home.”