It certainly is a business case worth looking at for this region.

Nova Scotia MP Peter MacKay, the federal minister responsible for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, was in Halifax last Friday to release a new study showing that enhancements in Atlantic ports, railways and roads could lead to more jobs and opportunities in the region.

The $200,000 study makes the business case for the “Atlantic Gateway” or entry point for shipping cargo to Eastern Canada and the U.S. Midwest.

The report found that improvements to the transportation links could create 61,000 new jobs by 2025, and result in $2.1 billion in wages and $3.4 billion in new GDP.

The Port of Halifax, the third-largest container port in Canada, would be the centre for the massive increase in container traffic flow. There is also potential for other opportunities, including the planned $300-million container terminal in the Strait of Canso at Melford, a terminal in Sydney, and increased traffic in St. John’s and Saint John.

Halifax’s two existing container terminals are sitting idle half of the time and would have the capacity to handle more cargo.

The report, conducted by Vancouver consultants, stated that increased container activity “would make the most significant economic contribution to Canada and the region.”

Local politicians and business leaders hope the federal government commits money to the region so it can tap into the Asian-North American market and boost imports and exports.

In last March’s federal budget, the Harper government promised $2.1 billion in gateway funding over the next seven years. The Pacific Gateway project has been around for years and has already received $591 million. (Atlantic Canada has yet to receive any funding.)

Mr. MacKay endorsed the Atlantic Gateway business plan, but made no promise of money on Friday. (The province has already pledged just over $1 million to the gateway initiative, which has gone towards consulting and salaries.)

Charles Cirtwill, acting president of the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies, says there is nothing new in the study and that it would be wrong to spend more taxpayers’ money on projects that may not work out. Instead, the private sector should fund the initiative.

The release of this new study opens the door for ports, rail lines or provincial governments in the region to make their business case for gateway funding to Ottawa.