By Fred Morley
As a leading proponent for strong provincial government action on the Halifax Shipyard bid for the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy (NSPS), the Partnership recommended to government that there was an urgent need for an economic impact analysis and a high quality communications campaign. We did the research and government took on the communications side. To the government’s credit, this communications effort was carried out with exactly the urgency and effectiveness needed to build momentum and confidence around this game changing opportunity.
Even before the campaign, we knew three things.
- We knew that in a fair fight for the NSPS, the quality of the work and the leadership at the Halifax Shipyard would win the day.
- We knew that despite weathering the recession well, Halifax and Nova Scotia businesses and consumers needed a jolt of confidence to begin spending and investing in our province.
- We knew that once we won, maximizing the benefits to Nova Scotia and Halifax meant that our business community and our residents had to get excited about the project and its potential for them, and be ready to seize the opportunity.
The Partnership and our investors put time, effort and money into Ships Start Here for these very important reasons. It was effort well spent and it happened quickly due to the business like nimbleness of NSBI.
Those of us that worked on the innovative NSBI concept more than a decade ago, recognized that Nova Scotia could not succeed in the competitive business development world without the nimbleness and attitude of a business approach. NSBI is governed and managed by a private sector board of directors like any publicly owned business. It was conceived to respond with the flexibility and speed of a business, to meet business needs and opportunities.
Some of us with long economic development memories remember the 1990s barriers to action that hurt government’s ability to respond to competitive opportunities. In the good old days, good deals died because ministerial approval was needed to buy a plane ticket or to rent a car to go and meet with a prospective investor. Those of us who lived through that environment knew that we had to change our approach to compete. We had to behave differently if we wanted to win. And so NSBI was created. With NSPS and Ships Start Here, they did exactly what they were created to do….get aggressive, behave like a business, make things happen and ensure Nova Scotia finishes first in any competition we enter.
So, we needed urgent and effective communications based on undisputable facts. The Partnership played our part with our timely analysis of NSPS economic impacts. This information needed to be communicated aggressively. NSBI should be congratulated for their role in making the communications effort successful.
We finished first on NSPS. As character building as finishing last all the time was in the old days…I really don’t want to go back there.
Author: Fred Morley
Fred Morley is the Executive Vice President and Chief Economist at the Greater Halifax Partnership.