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Atlantic Canada: More Than Just a Pretty Place

Some of Canada's most majestic landscapes and friendliest people are found in Atlantic Canada, the region on Canada's eastern Atlantic coast bordered by the Atlantic Ocean, the New England States, and the province of Quebec. Its four provinces are New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island (PEI), and Newfoundland & Labrador.

Jun/Jul 07
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Environmental Industries: Atlantic Canada's environmental market is valued at $1.5 billion annually; exports in 2002 were valued at more than $28 million, according to government sources. About 800-plus companies are engaged in technologies involving solid waste management, oil industry solutions, alternative energies, water and wastewater treatment, and related products and services. According to Industry Canada, Nova Scotia "has achieved some of the highest diversion rates in solid waste management (50 percent) in the world;" PEI is recognized for its "unique expertise" in wind energy and solid waste management planning/systems development; Newfoundland & Labrador is known nationally for its expertise in oil-spill contingency planning, response, and remediation; and New Brunswick firms have extensive experience in the wastewater sector.

Information and Communications Technologies (ICT)
: The 1,800 or so companies making up this regional sector employ nearly 20,000 workers and produce about $4 billion in annual revenues, according to government sources. They're involved in a wide range of activities, from security, e-learning, and IT services to multimedia, geomatics, and advanced technology and business solutions. Atlantic Canada boasts one of the world's best telecommunications infrastructures, featuring a 100 percent digital telecommunication network, high-speed digital links, broadband networks, and mobile and marine communications. Amazingly, more than 98 percent of its citizens are covered by digital wireless networks.

Bell Aliant, one of North America's largest regional telecommunications providers, operates in the region. Moreover, this high-tech industry is supported by cutting-edge R&D conducted by universities, research institutes, and corporate players. New Brunswick, for example, is home to Canada's biggest IT services firm (CGI Group Inc.), and the University of New Brunswick's Computer Science Department is a national leader in IT and advanced software research.

Ocean Technologies: This industry is one of Atlantic Canada's largest advanced technology sectors generating intense levels of R&D activity, exports (over 50 percent of all products), and wealth. It's estimated nearly 140 firms are engaged in the delivery or creation of technology for marine applications. They produce products ranging from defense, acoustic, and imaging systems to marine communications, navigation equipment, and information systems. Together these companies post about $330 million in annual sales.

The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency believes the region's prosperity in this sector comes from "an abundance of academic and technical expertise, extensive investment in research and development infrastructure, and a strong entrepreneurial spirit."

Seafood: The seafood industry is a key component of Atlantic Canada's economy, representing $1.6 billion of the region's gross domestic product and employing over 36,000 people. Here you will find the world's leading producer of canned sardines; the world's largest exporter of fresh, live lobster; and developers of innovative seafood-packaging technologies. The Atlantic Canadian economy depends heavily on exports for its growth (over half of its U.S. exports are sold to the New England States). This industry alone exports close to $3 billion worth of products annually, making it the region's third-largest export sector.

Reflecting upon the robust growth and strength of so many industries within the region, it's easy to see why the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency says, "A strong Atlantic economy contributes to a strong Canada."

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