One of the biggest challenges for any organization is to look outside its own backyard and have a clear vision of the opportunities on the horizon. Success lies in grasping where it fits in the larger world picture and then building a plan to seize emerging opportunities.

Thinking big about how Nova Scotia can harness more of the burgeoning Asian container ship traffic coming through the Suez Canal was the focus of a symposium I hosted last week in Halifax.

More than 350 participants from the transportation, business and trade, public policy and post-secondary sectors, as well as government, were challenged to consider what securing our province’s position as the Atlantic Gateway will mean for Canada’s transportation system, for businesses and the Canadian economy, and for our effort to build the new Nova Scotia using opportunities and global connections.

Lively discussions focused on national and regional opportunities to capitalize on the Gateway initiative, building upon the province’s freight corridor and supply chain and positioning the province to capitalize on changing international trade patterns.

Our keynote speaker, Michael Gallis, an expert in creating globally competitive regions, and our panellists were certainly up to the challenge of encouraging all participants to think big.

They pointed to Nova Scotia’s strengths. Our proximity to markets, deep, ice-free waters and excellent rail, truck, marine and air connections are just some of the reasons our province is the best and obvious route as a gateway to North America and a pivotal link in the global transportation system.

They identified the importance of: building relationships with business, government and post-secondary institutions in China, India and Southeast Asia; improving our infrastructure; pulling together a persuasive business case; and developing an aggressive marketing strategy to show the world’s economic powerhouses why Nova Scotia is the best place to get their goods to market faster.

All of these insightful points will greatly assist us as we continue to move forward.
Securing our position as North America’s Atlantic Gateway is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our province. The message during the symposium was clear — the time to act is now.
My government will continue to champion the cause of the Atlantic Gateway with both the private and public sectors in an effort to convince key decision-makers of the significance of this opportunity.

We will continue to play a key role in facilitating federal relations, developing infrastructure and advocating policies that support Gateway expansion — whether it’s in Sydney, Canso or Halifax — to the benefit of all Nova Scotians and Canadians.

We are also actively developing a Gateway strategy and action plan in consultation with transportation service providers and organization. It will outline how we can assist stakeholders and the private sector to develop the full potential of Gateway opportunities.
Achieving Gateway status will set off a chain reaction that will see us attract more and more private-sector investment, building a critical mass of transportation and logistics expertise, and elevating us on the global trading map.

We have a clear vision of the opportunities before us. Together, as leaders in transportation, business and trade, public policy and government, we’ll work to secure Nova Scotia’s position as North America’s Atlantic Gateway and make our vision a reality.