Both Opportunities NB (ONB) and the province of New Brunswick have faced a year of transition. On top of COVID-19 and its impact, a new strategic plan reset our course for the future with an eye towards doing our part to close the prosperity gap between New Brunswick and the rest of Canada.
ONB has embraced this mandate. We firmly believe in the potential that exists within this province. We have the unique privilege of working with businesses from every corner of the province. We see their passion and their commitment. It is their innovation and creativity that will build a new New Brunswick and unlock a more prosperous future.
Great Things are Still Happening in New Brunswick
New Brunswick was among the first jurisdictions to begin reopening its businesses en masse. Indeed, Statistics Canada noted in August that our province witnessed the “most complete employment recovery of all provinces to date.” New Brunswick’s successful recovery is a testament to our agility, and how united the province’s public and private sectors are when economic circumstances require quick collaboration.
Growing our Population
We understand that skilled newcomers to the province enrich every piece of New Brunswick’s economy, from industry to post-secondary institutions to our innovation ecosystem. Since establishing operations in Riverview, India’s Tech Mahindra has grown to over 200 staff, and is planning to continue hiring in the coming months. The company has already brought newcomers to the province from India, the Philippines, and other regions from Canada.
Building a new New Brunswick means doubling down on our commitment to work with companies on navigating our homegrown talent pool and also making it easier to bring top talent from abroad to our Province. Since 2017, heightened restrictions on the U.S.’s H-1B visa program have created significant challenges for companies around the world. New Brunswick came to the table early, connecting with impacted businesses to offer them a nearshore solution to servicing the U.S. market.
Investing in Productivity
Improving the competitiveness and resiliency of our businesses has never been more important. Improved productivity at the firm level is critical to New Brunswick’s long-term prosperity and central to ONB’s renewed mandate. ONB will continue to work with New Brunswick businesses as they invest in productivity. Manufacturers like Waska Cedar Shingles in Clair, for example, has invested in building the world’s first fully-automated cedar shingle manufacturing facility. The results? Lower production costs, reduced energy usage, enhanced efficiency, and most importantly, a massive increase in employee safety. Automation, artificial intelligence and robotics are fundamental pathways to addressing looming demographic and labour force challenges.
Big Names Continue to Grow in New Brunswick
Cooke Seafood is the largest independent seafood company in the world. In August, Cooke reported that they were looking to grow their footprint by 100 employees across their Atlantic Canadian operations. With 25 processing facilities and over 9,000 employees, Cooke ships a billion pounds of seafood to 67 countries worldwide. Cooke continues to grow, proving that in New Brunswick we know how to couple abundant natural resources with highly productive human resources to create a winning, world-class team. ONB recognizes that large companies like Cooke are vital in our efforts to build the new New Brunswick. Cooke has approximately 750 local partners and suppliers buys goods from over 1,200 SMEs and spends over $230 million per year across our region. Global success feeds more local success.
Innovators Thrive in Our Emerging Sectors
Bulletproof, a Fredericton-based IT company with a focus on cybersecurity, has been recognized with an innovation award from Microsoft for its Bulletproof 365 Enterprise offering. They are just one of many exciting cybersecurity companies thriving in New Brunswick. ONB is strengthening and expanding a world-class industry cluster led by companies like IBM Canada, leveraging the great talent coming from our schools like the University of New Brunswick.
Our province’s world-class cybersecurity ecosystem is another reason that innovative companies from other emerging sectors are looking at New Brunswick. Smart Grid technology requires substantial security efforts in order to be safe and effective. Digital health technologies include hardware and software that track and measure heart rate, blood sugar levels, pulse, mood, and more. This is highly personal patient data that needs to be well secured. New Brunswick offers healthcare groups a safe innovation ecosystem thanks to our many cybersecurity assets.
We have already shared the experiences of several New Brunswick businesses succeeding in the post-pandemic ‘new normal’. In the coming weeks, ONB will continue to tell the stories of companies already at work building that new New Brunswick we envision.
Keep an eye on this space as well as our social media channels as we begin rolling out these success stories along with kick-off messaging from ONB’s Interim Board Chair and Vice-Chair.