Immigrants Strengthen the Local Economy

I remember, when I first settled in Halifax as a permanent resident, someone mentioned that it would be great if Halifax had a more diverse flavour…. I  realized that this person meant the cultural flavour! Since I was new to the city I didn’t really have much to say in response. Today, after having lived in Halifax for several years, I would have something to say.. I would tell this person that Halifax is becoming more diverse, and is growing in flavours!

The next time you are in and around the downtown area look out for the increasing number of restaurants and cafes opened by immigrants from different parts of the world.  Let’s start with The Hamachi Group which now has several restaurants in the Halifax area.   Let’s then continue our tour to Pete’s Frootique with its cornucopia of food from the Caribbean, Asian and Middle Eastern countries and then of course from Pete’s home country of England. Are you feeling hungry?

Ok, then let’s walk over to B-Well Sushi Cafe located on Quinpool Ave for some Japanese cuisine at a Japanese-cafe-style.  If Haligonians want to experience something spicier with a Latin flavour then how about Cafe Aroma Latino on the corner of North and Agricola. Here you will find a good selection of traditional food from different Central and South American countries, and enjoy a delicious dish while listening to some salsa music. The flavour continues around the city with Greek, Lebanese, Brazilian, Jamaican, Turkish, Indian, Thai, Italian, Mexican and many other ethnic restaurants.

Aside from restaurants and cafés, immigrant entrepreneurs have also strengthened the city’s economy by offering a variety of services in sectors such as construction. Many of the properties in The Ravines of Bedford South were developed by Cresco which is owned by an immigrant. Other services offered by immigrants include: Cleaning Services, Accounting, Translation, Real State, Finance, Fashion, IT Service, Health, Tailor Service, Import/Export, Communications, Landscape, Photography, Beauty/Wellness, Transportation, Education and Automotive, among others.  Immigrant Settlement and Integration Services (ISIS) offers a business directory (currently being updated) that demonstrates the diverse range of immigrant owned businesses in Halifax and the rest of the province.

There is a common myth that immigrants take jobs from locals. The reality is very different and it’s time to dispel that myth. The more than 200 small and medium-sized businesses established in Halifax by immigrants demonstrate that immigrant entrepreneurs actually create jobs for themselves and locals. They make an enormous contribution to our economy and community every day and there are many stories that demonstrate this success.   

I am the Immigration Employer Support Coordinator at the Greater Halifax Partnership and if you are an immigrant entrepreneur and are considering bringing a family member from your home country to work in your business, you can contact me at  I can provide you with all the information you need to start the process.


Margie Casallas

As a recent immigrant to Canada, Margie understands the unique skills and perspectives that immigrants bring to Nova Scotia. She has eight years of experience in the private sector and is currently doing an Executive MBA at Saint Mary’s University. Margie enjoys traveling and has experienced living in different countries.


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