April 7, 2006

BIZ ‘SWAT team’ pays off in Halifax

Winnipeg officials should work as a team to create jobs and recruit new ventures to the city, says its chamber of commerce.

Chamber president Dave Angus is fired up to emulate the success of Halifax, N.S, which recently landed 1,200 jobs from Waterloo, Ont.’s Blackberry-maker Research in Motion.

The coup was a major turnaround for a community mired in recession only 10 years ago. Today Halifax ranks third among Canada’s largest cities in business confidence, said Stephen Dempsey, president and CEO of the Greater Halifax Partnership.

Dempsey told the Manitoba’s Business Leaders Conference yesterday the partnership works like a SWAT team, fanning out to attract and retain commerce.

Dempsey said Halifax has increased population, retained its youth and generated 44,000 new jobs through private sector.

Business and government leaders are joined at the table by representatives from universities, colleges, hospitals, the airport and port authority, he added. All kick in funding to make the collaboration work.

But it was the local chamber of commerce that initiated the approach, Dempsey said.

“(It’s) the first public-private partnership committed to building economic prosperity in our region."

Angus says the chamber wants to see the model adopted here. It has already outlined the plan to municipal and provincial officials.

“This is not to replace anything (we have now) but to build on what we have,” Angus said after the speech.” It’s a big idea. It may take some time but it’s important.

The Winnipeg Sun