As we all navigated the many challenges brought by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic throughout 2021, Opportunities NB (ONB) remained committed to working with businesses to help them grow and succeed. And succeed they did – in all regions and communities across the province.
Today, we continue our regional look back at the many successes our province had in 2021, highlighting some of the most notable many success stories that we have been a part of along the way. ONB is dedicated to continuing to work with our federal, provincial, and sectoral partners to drive continued success this year and into the future.
We now shift our attention to the Southeast region of New Brunswick.
The Southeast Region (Albert, Kent, and Westmorland counties)
“When we opened our Dieppe office for TD Insurance last July, the plan was to hire about 100 new colleagues. We’re up to 180 and are still actively hiring,” said TD Associate Vice President Josh Hakkenberg in April 2021. The pandemic saw TDI’s new hires working from home, and the company became increasingly comfortable with the idea of remote work. Hakkenberg noted that his team had already recruited some 20 employees from outside the Greater Moncton area in more remote regions of the province and were open to expanding their remote team if they continued to find great candidates.
Like TDI, Montreal-based Thinkmax recognized the New Brunswick Advantage – the winning combination of our people, innovation, infrastructure, and agility – and opted to grow their Canadian footprint with a new location in New Brunswick. Last year saw the management and IT consulting firm open its new Moncton office on Main Street in the Higgins Block. “ONB did a great job showing us the many pros of New Brunswick. It was exciting to work with people who are promoters of New Brunswick and proud of the business ecosystem it offers,” noted President and CEO (and Dieppe native) Marc Belliveau. “The guidance and spiritual support from ONB have been as important as anything else.”
Homegrown technology companies saw growth in 2021 as well. Missing Link Technologies announced in June that it would create 20 new full-time jobs over the next three years with support from ONB. “Our strategic, collaborative partnerships with Opportunities NB and other government agencies and businesses have helped us grow over the years,” said CEO Thomas George. “We are more focused than ever, and we intend to become a recognized leader in our field and in the New Brunswick business community.”
Moncton’s Dizolve manufactures dissolvable laundry strips the size and weight of a small strip of paper. Thanks to a strategic partnership with Tru Earth, the company saw tremendous growth in both business and headcount in 2021. “We’ve grown 13X over the past 18 months,” Marc Aucoin, VP of Strategic Development, told ONB in September. “We’ve also made capital investments and plan to continue expanding over the coming months and bringing on more production.”
Systemair saw productivity improvements take centre stage at its Bouctouche facility in 2021. The ventilation company became one of the first New Brunswick-based businesses to invest in new robot technology. In a unique environment, multiple industrial robots will work side-by-side on Systemair’s production line to perform sequential work. These automation efforts will create new skilled positions that will be needed to operate this new equipment. These cutting-edge productivity improvements also mean improved profit margins, reduced waste, export growth, and a positive impact on provincial GDP.
When global restrictions on entry into Canada and New Brunswick threatened the province’s traditional industries like agriculture, seafood processing, and silviculture, ONB stepped up to help. Negotiating tirelessly with the Government of Canada, ONB was able to ensure that companies in these sectors were able to recruit the temporary foreign workers (TFWs) needed to ensure business continuity in the face of the pandemic. The result? Over 1,500 TFWs were able to safely enter the province to ensure our farms continued to operate, our seafood continued to be processed, and our tree planting was completed. Ensuring that a workforce was in place meant that no commodities rotted in the ground or in a processing plant, and seasons were not lost.
Crucial to this success was allowing charter flights to land in Moncton. At the onset of the pandemic, only Toronto, Montreal, Calgary, and Halifax could accept incoming flights. Working with the Department of Health and PHAC, ONB was able to add Moncton to the list of approved incoming flight destinations.
Several New Brunswick companies benefitted from the work done to ensure TFWs could safely enter the province’s workforce, including Toner Produce, Green Pig Country Market, Cape Bald Packers, Westmorland Fishers, JD Irving, Shediac Lobster Shop, and M&S Wild Blueberry Farms.
DJ Marine had another strong year of growth in 2021, achieving more than 30 per cent growth. This manufacturer of fishing-related products produces lobster and crab fishing boats, lobster traps, and much more. With continued support from ONB, DJ Marine now employs approximately 40 full-time staff, with an additional 15 international workers and their families also scheduled to arrive in Pointe-Sapin in summer 2022. They have also had great success collaborating with the advanced materials team from the CCNB-INNOV network. Read more about that relationship here (in French only).