Contract win and economic boost

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Nova Scotia long rode the waves as a capital of shipbuilding and it’s looking like happy days are here again.

The jubilation of workers at Irving Shipbuilding in Halifax resembled a Stanley Cup win celebration Wednesday with the announcement that it had secured the biggest piece of a federal contract – $25 billion in combat ship construction over the next 20 years.

Congratulations to the company and those who took on the challenge of assembling the best bid among three shipyards across the country.

Seaspan Marine Corp. in British Columbia was awarded the $8 billion in federal contracts for non-combat ships.

It’s hard to peg the effect this will have on Halifax – and Nova Scotia generally – but suffice to say it’s huge. Halifax Mayor Peter Kelly said the contract would translate into 4,000 jobs over the life of the project. But that number jumps to more than 11,000 with indirect jobs included. Spinoffs will benefit home builders, car dealers and retailers in general.

Those kinds of numbers in a province of fewer than one million – and facing an overall ebb in population – can’t be overestimated. Some might see it as tidings for the Metro region, but the economic boost – estimated by some as a 2.6 per cent bump – will have an effect province-wide.

Although the bidding process somewhat reflected region pitted against region – in a country that often sees that – the federal government did what it could to eliminate any charges of political favouritism. The Harper government had four senior bureaucrats evaluate the bids and hired an accounting firm to ensure a fair selection process. To know the win was earned means a lot.

Premier Darrell Dexter has described this as an opportunity to turn the corner on 20 years of economic slowdown.

We must remember too that winners inspire confidence. The attention from this success has potential to show other industry and entrepreneurs that Nova Scotia is the place to get the job done.

Organizations: Irving Shipbuilding, Seaspan Marine

Geographic location: Nova Scotia, Halifax, British Columbia

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