AMHERST – Benefits from the region’s multi-billion-contract to build ships for Canada’s Navy will extent far from Halifax, says a development officer with the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency.
However, to take full advantage of the opportunities Matthew Johnson said local firms must begin their preparations now.
“Businesses need to step up and be identified,” Johnson said after speaking to members of the Amherst Rotary Club on Monday. “We have a good database, but companies need to join their professional associations and be active. The Aerospace and Defence Industry Association is one of the key organizations we use at a ACOA to get the word out. They provide their members with a lot of information on what companies are looking for.”
Johnson, who the development officer responsible for the aerospace and defence sector with ACOA, also met with members of the Amherst and Area Chamber of Commerce on Monday, while he toured Bradean’s Tool & Die in the industrial park.
It’s expected that businesses across the province – not just those in Halifax – will benefit from the $25-billion federal shipbuilding contract awarded last October to Halifax Shipyard.
Vancouver-based Seaspan Marine Corp, picked up $8 billion in contracts for non-combat ships, while another $2 billion will be allocated later for smaller ships.
Johnson said there are plenty of examples of companies locally that could benefit from the contract. Saying that, companies need to be prepared to put their best foot forward because work will be based on quality and price.
“It’s important for companies to know what their limitations are, but more importantly to know what their capabilities are and be very sure of those because when they approach a prime contactor there’s little or no margin for error,” Johnson said. “They are going to be very stringent.”
Dean Smith of Bradean’s Tool & Die said his company is interested in participating in the project, but it’s still early in the process.
“We’ve been attending a lot of meetings. It doesn’t suit us perfectly, but we’re very interested to see how we can participate,” said Smith. “We’re going to keep our ear to the ground because it’s a lot of work, but it’s a different industry.”
Ninety-five per cent of the work done by Bradean’s is in the aerospace sector, but Smith said the company already has a lot of the precision equipment required.