BDC Small Business Week (SBW) is the annual celebration of small, local businesses and entrepreneurship. This year’s SBW theme is “Seizing the opportunity to build the way forward” and is aimed at creating solutions and opportunities for Canadian entrepreneurs in the wake of the past 18 months of disruption.

Timed with SBW (October 18 – 24), New Brunswick is hosting this year’s Atlantic Provinces Reversed Trade Show (APRTS), with a ‘live’ day taking place October 20. Opportunities NB (ONB) is excited to leverage this virtual event to dive into areas such as supply chain optimization, and private/public procurement opportunities.

Melanie Clark, ONB’s Supply Chain Optimization Project Lead, says the APRTS presents a golden opportunity for New Brunswick businesses. “It’s about creating opportunities and reducing barriers to help New Brunswick-based companies grow and sell more products and services to the public sector.”

She tells us more below.

ONB: Why does the APRTS matter and why should businesses attend?

Clark: This is an essential networking event for our companies and public sector procurement professionals. It’s a forum for creating new leads for our businesses, and for them to get training and education on how best to sell their products and services to the New Brunswick government as well as the governments of the other Atlantic provinces. We want to keep reducing barriers for our companies so they can more effectively sell into public sector procurement and this Reverse Trade Show is a great place to start.

Why is the NB First Procurement Strategy so important for New Brunswick companies?

It recognizes that public procurement is a lever for economic development. Again, we want to maximize success for our companies and help them obtain some of those available contracts. Public procurement is a billion-dollar spend and this Procurement Strategy supports supplier development, reduces barriers, and helps us all maximize our domestic supply chains.

What is ONB’s role in terms of facilitating supply chain opportunities (private and public) for NB businesses?

ONB takes a proactive approach with this. We have Business Development Executives (BDEs) across the province in every region. They work with our companies every day on these issues, and this has helped us develop a high degree of internal expertise on these matters. We’re well-positioned to support supply chain optimization on both the private and public sector sides of the equation. ONB is a liaison connecting New Brunswick companies to other local companies and the public sector to help everyone fill gaps in their respective supply chains. Import replacement is a focus for us as well, and we know there are plenty of opportunities to support our companies on that front through procurement initiatives.

What are the main benefits of making these types of connections and partnerships?

Making a shift to increased purchasing of local goods and services means growth for New Brunswick companies and a stronger economy, it’s that simple. There’s a 2018 report, Import Replacement: Local Prosperity for Rural Atlantic Canada. In it, they note that even a 10% shift in buying from local sources could make a huge difference in this region.

As an example, a $100 M shift in spending in this province towards local vendors could bring approximately:

  • 330 jobs
  • $20.9 M in labour income
  • $40 M in total value added
  • $1.9 M in indirect business taxes

What successes have you seen recently in terms of procurement and supply chain optimization?

Great things are happening across the province in this regard. I would point to companies like Metalfab, BBI Group, and Craig Manufacturing (see their video) as great examples of companies finding success through procurement efforts. You could also look at The Smart Energy Company and the solar farm initiative they landed with NB Power. That is the kind of collaboration we want to see more of.

What advice would you give to NB businesses when thinking of public/private procurement and supply chain opportunities? 

Look at your internal supply chain and ask yourself if there are opportunities to make a shift to made-in-New-Brunswick solutions.  Do you have capabilities to support supply chain gaps for other local companies? Is there something you’re currently purchasing outside New Brunswick that could come from home? You could be sitting on opportunities that could create more jobs at home and keep more money in the local community. And if you’re in doubt or have questions, contact us. ONB’s Business Growth Team is looking to support you with this, so reach out.

Register for the APRTS today HERE. (Registration is free but required.)

For a full look at the NB First Procurement Strategy including how to register with the New Brunswick Opportunities Network (NBON) visit this page.