Attracting Investment


Economic Climate

The Eastern Strait Region in Nova Scotia is ideally positioned to attract new investment from both new start-up firms and established companies and those looking to locate in Nova Scotia to serve national and international markets. The towns of Antigonish and Port Hawkesbury offer urban amenities and services and support tourism, agriculture, forestry, fishing and other natural resources-based economic activity across the region.

Eight reasons to invest in Canada (Source: Invest in Canada)
  1. A welcoming business environment: According to Forbes magazine, Canada is the second best country in the G20 to do business.
  2. A strong growth record: According to the OECD, Canada led all G7 countries in economic growth over the past decade (2006 – 2015).
  3. Unparalleled market access: Once the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) comes into force, foreign investors in Canada will have assured preferential access to both NAFTA and the European Union.
  4. A highly-educated workforce: Canada’s workforce is the most highly educated among members of the OECD, with half of its working-age population having a tertiary level education.
  5. Low business tax costs: Total business tax costs in Canada are by far the lowest in the G7 and, according to KPMG, 46 percent lower than those in the United States.
  6. Competitive R&D environment: Canada offers the lowest business costs in the G7 for R&D-intensive sectors, with a 27.7 percent cost advantage over the United States (Source: KPMG).
  7. Financial stability: The World Economic Forum consistently declares Canada’s banking system to be one of the soundest in the world.
  8. A great place to invest, work, and live: The OECD’s Better Life Index shows Canada as best in the G7 in terms of overall living conditions and quality of life.

For firms looking to invest in Nova Scotia, the Eastern Strait offers impressive advantages including a competitive cost environment, a high-quality workforce and good transportation infrastructure. Beyond the general economic climate, the Eastern Strait features a number of industries that are poised for growth. The provincial tourism strategy is focused on growing that sector’s revenue from $2.6 billion in 2016 to $4 billion by 2024. The Eastern Strait is ideally positioned to attract tourism investment and new entrepreneurs. The renewable energy, mining and forestry sectors feature growth opportunities as does the aquaculture sector. The Strait is also well positioned to attract a new generation of freelance workers who could live anywhere but who are attracted to the region to take advantage of its pristine, rural lifestyle. Already the number of new immigrants is on the rise and there are plans to attract a lot more.

Economic Climate: Canada

Canada is one of the best countries in the world to invest. It features a stable economic environment, low inflation, strong institutions and room for further growth. It’s no wonder foreign direct investment in Canada reached a record $826 billion in 2016.

Economic Climate: Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia is on the cusp of an economic renaissance but it needs to attract more investment, more entrepreneurs and more talent to fuel this growth. The fundamentals are in place. The provincial government books are balanced. Public investment in roads and other public infrastructure is increasing. Inflation is low. Canada has an international reputation as a safe and secure place to invest. In fact, Canada is a top destination around the world for both international investment and the attraction of entrepreneurs.

Economic Climate: The Eastern Strait

The economic climate in the Eastern Strait is improving. The number of unemployed persons in the North Shore region of Nova Scotia which includes the Eastern Strait and three other counties was down by 26 per cent compared to the level back in 2012. The value of building permits in the North Shore region jumped to nearly $196 million in 2016, the highest level since 2011. The number of new dwellings constructed increased by over 40 per cent in 2016. New growth opportunities and a renewed focus on attracted talent to the region bode well for the future.


Key Advantages

A competitive cost environment.

Overall operating costs and taxes in Nova Scotia are highly competitive for most industries. In 2016 KMPG looked at the average total costs for manufacturing operations in 12 sub-sectors and determined the potential profit levels for each of them. On average, manufacturing operations in Nova Scotia were much more profitable compared to most other locations in the study. As an example, the sample aerospace manufacturing operation in Nova Scotia generated after tax profits nearly double the same facility in the United Kingdom (London) and nearly four times as much compared to Boston, Massachusetts. Similar cost advantages exist for sectors such as software development and professional services.

Land costs are substantially lower in Nova Scotia compared to most other locations in North America. Payroll-related benefit costs can be 40 percent less in the Eastern Strait compared to U.S. jurisdictions because of the high cost of health care and other payroll-related taxes in the United States.

Lower effective business taxes provide an ongoing benefit to employers.

Nova Scotia corporate taxes are very competitive with other jurisdictions in Canada, the United States and Europe. In KPMG’s Competitive Alternatives report, the firm reviewed the total tax environment facing corporations around the world. Each city was assigned a Total Tax Index (TTI) based on the three main corporate tax areas: corporate income tax; other corporate taxes (property, sales, etc.) and statutory labour costs (i.e. payroll taxes). Halifax, the only Nova Scotia city in the study, was ranked 8th out of the 113 global cities for its total tax environment. Firms in the Eastern Strait take advantage of this competitive tax environment.

A high-quality workforce

Nova Scotia has one of the educated, hardest working and loyal workforces when compared to jurisdictions right across North America. For example, the average job tenure for a full-time worker in Nova Scotia is 117 months, well above the average tenure across Canada of 109 months and the U.S. average of only 55 months. However, the workforce is aging and the provincial government, its municipal government partners and industry groups are focused on attracting and developing a new generation of workers. They have set a goal of boosting interprovincial migration by 1,000 per year (net gain), expanding immigration to more than 9,000 per year and retaining a larger share of the international student population that studies in Nova Scotia each year.

Attracting talent

The Eastern Strait is well positioned to attract its share of newcomers moving to Nova Scotia. St. Francis Xavier university in the Town of Antigonish attracts more than 5,000 students from around the world each year and the Strait Area Campus of the Nova Scotia Community College attracts hundreds more.

The Eastern Strait offers entrepreneurial opportunities attractive to young people in sectors such as agriculture, tourism, ocean technology and professional services. Young people have more choice than ever before. Architects, graphic designers, computer programmers, lawyers, accountants and more can serve their clients from anywhere. The Eastern Strait is focused on attracting young people from across Canada and around the world to live and work here.

Natural resources

The Eastern Strait economy is based in large part on natural resources including fish, forests and agriculture. One way to measure this is by using Location Quotient (LQ) analysis which compares the Eastern Strait to the national economy by looking at employment by industry intensity. An industry with an LQ of greater than 1.00 means the Eastern Strait labour force has a higher share of employment in that sector. Antigonish County has an LQ for the agriculture, forestry and fishing sector (NAICS 11) of 3.33 meaning the county has more than three times as many people employed in this sector compared to the national economy. The Guysborough County LQ for the same sector is 7.38.

Strategic Assets

Post-Secondary education infrastructure

There are 57,000 persons enrolled in public colleges or universities across Nova Scotia giving the province and its employers a deep talent pipeline. Adjusted for population size, there are more people enrolled in universities across Nova Scotia than all other provinces across Canada by a wide margin in 2016. These universities offer a full range of undergraduate and graduate degrees with higher than average graduates in business and management; physical and life sciences; architecture and engineering. The province’s universities and colleges have built strong research partnerships with the private sector and as a result Nova Scotia’s higher education sector has the second highest concentration of research and development (R&D) spending per capita among the 10 provinces across Canada.

In the Eastern Strait, the post-secondary education sector is anchored by St. Francis Xavier University and the Strait Area campus of the Nova Scotia Community College. There are approximately 6,000 students enrolled at the university and community college. In addition, a number of private training schools round out the post-secondary education infrastructure with niche programs geared to industry. There are nearly five times as many university students per 10,000 population in the Eastern Strait region compared to Canada as a whole. Efforts to retain more of these students in the Strait are underway.

Saint Francis Xavier University Located in the Town of Antigonish, St. Francis University is a primarily undergraduate university with some 5,300 students. StFX offers degrees in arts, science, business, education, and applied programs.

The Strait Area Campus of the Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC) is located in Port Hawkesbury. The Campus is home to the Nautical Institute that provides Transport Canada-approved marine training. Facilities for marine training include a wave tank, fire training centre and state-of-the-art simulators for propulsion systems, navigation and global communications. Other full time programs include: business administration; several trades-related programs, and several health care programs. There are 700 full-time students enrolled at The Eastern Strait Campus. The NSCC also offers firms in the Eastern Strait customized training solutions. The college will customize training based on the specific needs of an industry or individual company. Depending on the needs, the college can adapt existing courses or develop new ones.

Natural gas infrastructure

The main Maritimes and Northeast natural gas pipeline cuts through Guysborough County with a lateral pushing up to Point Tupper – near the Town of Port Hawkesbury. The region is home to the Goldboro gas plant and the Point Tupper fractionation plant separating the natural gas into condensate, propane and butane. Guysborough County is also the site of a proposed liquified natural gas (LNG) export terminal. This $8 billion+ project will include a natural gas liquefaction plant and facilities for the storage and export of LNG. The facility is anticipated to produce approximately ten million metric tonnes of LNG per year and have on-site storage capacity of 690,000 cubic metres of LNG.

Industrial scale users of natural gas have several locations they can set up to take advantage of this resource.


Electricity generation and transmission infrastructure

Within Atlantic Canada, the Eastern Strait is a main corridor for electricity transmission. Multiple high capacity transmission lines cross the region and the new Maritime Link bringing hydroelectricity from Labrador will cut through the region. The Town of Antigonish maintains its own electric utility which allows it to provide reliable and stable power at competitive rates. Antigonish Electric Utility is able to offer electricity prices at least 10% lower than Nova Scotia Power.

The Eastern Strait is also increasing its role as a green energy producer. There are multiple wind farms located in the area. The Municipality of the District of Guysborough owns and operates five small wind turbines through the Nova Scotia Community Feed-in Tariff (ComFIT) program and, in 2015, became the first municipal majority owner/operator of a large-scale wind farm in Canada. Sable Wind is a 13.8 MW wind farm located at the east end of the Municipality near Canso/Hazel Hill.

The region is currently looking to develop new wind energy projects that will feed into the new Atlantic Link Project, a high voltage direct current (HVdc) transmission line that will deliver 900 megawatts (MW) of clean energy from Atlantic Canada directly to Massachusetts.

In addition, the 60 megawatt Port Hawkesbury Biomass Plant is one of the largest of its kind in Canada supplying as much as three per cent of the province’s electricity.

Industrial and Business Parks

For firms seeking an industrial or business park location, there are multiple options in the Eastern Strait region.

The Antigonish County Business Park is located approximately eight kilometres east of the Town of Antigonish on the Trans-Canada Highway (TCH) 104. The park is 55 kilometers west of the Strait of Canso and the Canso Causeway which links Cape Breton Island to mainland Nova Scotia. The Antigonish County Business Park comprises 100 acres of serviced industrial lands catering to small and medium sized industrial development. The municipality is currently studying the potential for new business park capacity in the area.

Goldboro Industrial Park

The Goldboro Industrial Park is located in the Municipality of the District of Guysborough and offers more than 850 acres of industrial land as well as being home to the Sable Natural Gas Processing Plant. The park features sheltered ice-free marine terminal access, low density marine traffic, and significant expansion potential should the need arise.

Melford Industrial Park

The Melford Industrial Land Reserve is a 14,500 acre industrial-zoned park located on the Strait of Canso, a sheltered, deepwater, ice-free port with water depths in excess of 90 feet within 100 feet from the shore. The Strait of Canso is deep enough to handle Post Panamax vessels or Ultra Large Crude Carriers. There are high capacity electrical transmission lines running adjacent to the property and a nearby purpose-built freshwater reservoir with 10 million US gallon capacity per day.

Other location options

The Antigonish Area has readily available land and properties to purchase or lease in both the downtown and the surrounding rural areas. This space to grow is important to companies looking to locate in an area which will accommodate their long term plans and growth. Competitive rental rates when leasing space provide cost-savings opportunities for businesses establishing or re-locating to Antigonish.

Transportation Infrastructure

The Eastern Strait is serviced by modern and efficient road, rail and port infrastructure. In addition, the busiest airport east of Montreal is located a short two-hour drive from the region. The Halifax Stanfield International Airport has been ranked the one of the best airports in North America for multiple years by the Airports Council International. The airport services more than 3.5 million passengers annually with international flights departing daily to destinations in North America, South America and Europe. Smaller airports are located in Port Hawkesbury and Trenton in Pictou County to the east.

In addition to being a short drive from Canada’s top east coast port (Halifax), the Eastern Strait features port facilities of its own as well as a proposed new container terminal slated to be built in Melford, Guysborough County.

The Eastern Strait is also serviced by rail. The Cape Breton and Central Nova Scotia Railway is a nearly 400 kilometre rail line linking the main Canadian National line to Cape Breton. The CN/CBCNS interchanges is located in Truro, Nova Scotia. The rail line handles mostly commodities such as chemicals, lumber, paper and petroleum products.

Broadband infrastructure

Most residents living in the Eastern Strait have access to broadband telecommunications infrastructure offering speeds of up to 10 Mbps. Firms such as Seaside Wireless and Eastlink offer broadband services. The Towns of Antigonish and Port Hawkesbury have very good connectivity. In addition, there are many efforts underway to expand access to the smallest communities across the region. In the Municipality of the District of St. Mary’s, a recent project was developed to bring broadband to the Spanish Ship Bay area a community of 35 homes, several businesses, churches and public spaces.

Tourism assets

The Eastern Strait region features a variety of tourism assets including hiking trails, museums, monuments beaches and provincial parks. There are 30 different accommodation services providers in the region including motels, inns and bed and breakfast establishments.

Opportunities for Investment

There are many opportunities for investment into the Eastern Strait region both for new entrepreneurs and established firms. With its wide-open spaces, natural resources, competitive cost environment and strong infrastructure, the Eastern Strait is well positioned for new growth and is seeking entrepreneurs and established firms to invest here. For budding entrepreneurs, there are a wide variety of potential opportunities to explore in the region. For farmers, the region is an ideal venue to establish agricultural operations. For firms in sectors such as mining, forestry, ocean technology and aquaculture, the Eastern Strait offers many opportunities. For freelance workers who can live anywhere, why not live in the Eastern Strait?

Tourism investment

Nova Scotia has a bold new tourism strategy meant to boost tourism revenues from $2.6 billion to $4 billion by 2024. In order to achieve this objective, the provincial government and its partners will be working to attract first time visitors, investing in markets of highest return, building world-class experiences and increasing stakeholder confidence.

The Eastern Strait is an ideal location for new tourism ventures. It is centrally located within Canada’s Maritime Provinces, a close drive to Halifax, Moncton and Cape Breton. It features vast, wide open spaces, nearly 300 kilometres of pristine coastline and many tourism attractions.

Despite these assets and attributes, the tourism sector in the Eastern Strait is the least developed of the seven tourism regions around Nova Scotia. The Eastern Shore region generates only 1.3 per cent of the province’s annual tourism revenue. Across Nova Scotia annually there are more than 2.5 million fixed roof accommodation room nights sold. In the Eastern Shore the annual figure is only 17,000.

This points to the need for new tourism investment and entrepreneurs. If you are looking to establish a new tourism-related venture we can help.

Agriculture investment

There are nearly 3,500 farms across Nova Scotia with a diverse mix of animal and crop farming. The government is focusing an increasing amount of effort into the wine production sector, wild blueberries and apples while developing new international markets in the European Union and China. The government is also focused on promoting local food and on fostering agricultural innovation through its partnership with Perennia Food and Agriculture Inc. and other stakeholders.

In the Eastern Strait there were nearly 300 farms in 2016 or nine per cent of the provincial total. Eastern Strait farmers focus on a variety of animals and crops but have a particular focus on cattle ranching; fruit and tree nut farming; greenhouse, nursery and floriculture production and hay farming. In recent years there has been a reduction in the number of farmers and the number of hectares in the region dedicated to agriculture. There is significant opportunity for a new generation of farmers from Nova Scotia, across Canada or around the world to come to the region. If you a farmer or work for a firm that is looking to invest in the agriculture sector in the Eastern Strait we can help you.

Forestry sector investment

There are 66 firms in the Eastern Strait forest products cluster including 31 in forestry and logging, 15 in support activities for forestry, six in wood product manufacturing, one in paper manufacturing and 13 in forest products trucking. In recent years, the economic contribution of the sector has been in decline but it still remains a central driver of the regional economy. The cluster is anchored by the paper manufacturing mill in Port Hawkesbury and supported by several sawmills a deep supply chain.

If you are looking to get involved in the forestry sector, have an innovative idea or are considering investing in the Eastern Strait, we can help.

Ocean technology

Nova Scotia has developed one of the most important ocean technology clusters in the world. According to Nova Scotia Business Inc. there are more than 60 firms in the cluster providing a broad range of products and services including underwater acoustics, sensing and imaging; marine communication and navigation; environmental services and information technologies. The industry is evolving into wireless networks and sensors; robotics and autonomous vehicles; as well as informatics and artificial intelligence.

The Eastern Strait economy is heavily reliant on the ocean and its firms and institutions are playing an important role in the development of ocean technology. The Nautical Institute at the Strait Area Campus of the Nova Scotia Community College offers a wide variety of related training courses for the marine sector.

St. Francis Xavier University professors and students are involved in a wide variety of ocean technology-related research and in the establishment of innovative ocean-tech related startups. For example, StFX researchers have developed an innovative vehicle-based Emissions Attribution via Computational Techniques (ExACT) gas leak detection technology. The university recently signed a technology collaboration agreement with Altus Group for the exclusive worldwide commercialization usage rights.

The ESREN is interested in supporting new entrepreneurs and existing businesses that are looking to develop new ocean technologies. The region’s fishing, offshore gas, ocean transportation and other sectors make it a good testing ground for new technology.

Fishing, aquaculture and seafood processing

The ocean has sustained the economies of numerous Eastern Strait communities for hundreds of years. There are more than 300 establishments in the fishing sector (NAICS 1141) in the region, several seafood processing operations and nine firms involved in the wholesale distribution of fish and seafood products.

There are more than two dozen aquaculture operations around the the region with potential for more. Fish species being farmed in the Eastern Strait include: Blue Mussel, European Oyster, American Oyster, Sea Scallop, Bay Scallop, American Oyster, Blue Mussel, Dulse, Finger Kelp, Sea Lettuce, Sugar Kelp, Atlantic Salmon, and Rainbow Trout.

The fish and seafood industry is key to the Nova Scotia economy. Nova Scotia was Canada’s leading exporter of seafood in 2016, with $1.8 billion worth of products sold to international markets. In 2017, the provincial government rolled out a new brand for the province’s seafood exports focusing on the unique attributes and qualities of the provincial fishery.

The recreational fishery is also an important part of the Eastern Strait economy. Sports fishing for the prized Bluefin Tuna attracts visitors from around the world.

If you are looking for investment opportunities in the fish, seafood and aquaculture sectors, the ESREN can help.

Renewable energy

The Eastern Strait has become a leader in Atlantic Canada for renewable energy in recent years. There are multiple wind farms located in the area. The Municipality of the District of Guysborough owns and operates five small wind turbines through the Nova Scotia Community Feed-in Tariff (ComFIT) program and, in 2015, became the first municipal majority owner/operator of a large-scale wind farm in Canada. Sable Wind is a 13.8 MW wind farm located at the east end of the Municipality near Canso/Hazel Hill. There is also a focus on solar energy.

The region is currently looking to develop new wind energy projects that will feed into the new Atlantic Link Project, a high voltage direct current (HVdc) transmission line that will deliver 900 megawatts (MW) of clean energy from Atlantic Canada directly to Massachusetts.

In addition, the 60 megawatt Port Hawkesbury Biomass Plant is one of the largest of its kind in Canada supplying as much as three per cent of the province’s electricity.

If you are considering a new business venture in renewable energy, ESREN can help.


The mining, quarrying and oil and gas extraction sector in Nova Scotia employs 4,000 people mostly in rural areas of the province. The Eastern Strait region features a number of important exploratory mining projects including a potential gold mining project in Goldboro and another south of the Town of Antigonish.

Live here. Service markets anywhere.

A lot of professionals and entrepreneurs have the opportunity to choose where they live and bring their work with them. Graphic designers, computer programmers, accountants, lawyers, consultants, and a host of other professions can be done easily from home and interaction with clients can be done by Skype or other online platforms.

In the Eastern Strait there are nearly 100 businesses in the professional services, finance and insurance and arts and entertainment sectors that have no employees, they are one-person shops service clients locally and beyond. We don’t know how many of them export their services but across Nova Scotia the exportation of services is worth hundreds of millions of dollars to the provincial economy each year.

Financial planning services such as investment counselling, insurance related services and securities dealing services generates nearly $200 million per year worth of export revenue for Nova Scotia. IT services and software development generates close to $180 million worth of export revenue and architectural and engineering services nearly $120 million per year. This revenue can be generated by firms large and small. What it demonstrates, however; is that firms based in Nova Scotia can export their services across Canada and around the world.

Why base yourself in the Eastern Strait? Low costs of living, wide open spaces, very low crime rates, good infrastructure, proximity to a world class university and community college and, just down the road, the largest international airport east of Montreal.

If you are a professional looking for a small town/rural lifestyle, you should take a long hard look at the Eastern Strait. We can help.

Key Employers

Port Hawkesbury Paper

Produces supercalendered paper and manages over 500,000 hectares of Crown land in central and northern Nova Scotia. Port Hawkesbury Paper is striving to deliver the highest quality and most efficient supercalendered paper production in North America.


St. Francis Xavier University

One of the best regarded primarily undergraduate universities in Canada, StFX is home more than 5,000 students and was recognized as one of Atlantic Canada’s top employers in 2017. The university 800+ full and part time employees and is the top employer in the Eastern Strait region.


Central Home Improvement

Now owned by Kent Building supports, Central Home Improvement owns multiple stores in the Eastern Strait supported and serviced by a Retail Support Center and Distribution Center located in Lower South River, Antigonish.


Arisaig Fisheries Limited

Arisaig Fisheries Ltd, has been in operation since 1976. The Arisaig Fisheries plant in Arisaig, Antigonish County processes groundfish and is home to their holding tanks for lobster, as well as their head offices. They also own and operate a large lobster processing plant in Lismore, Pictou County which has been running since 1984.


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