Government will soon appoint new assistant deputy minister of oceans

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Daniel MacEachern
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The new minister for Innovation, Business and Rural Development says his department is close to putting an assistant deputy minister in place dedicated to the ocean technology sector.
Keith Hutchings, who took over the provincial portfolio in the Oct. 28 cabinet shuffle, told a group of ocean technology industry leaders and representatives from educational institutions and government at the OceansAdvance annual general meeting Thursday that his new portfolio is exciting with a steep learning curve, and noted the sector’s stated goal of hitting $1 billion in sales revenues by 2015. This year, ocean technology companies in the province are expecting to hit $600 million in sales.
“We want to help you achieve your goals, and certainly ours as well,” he said. “When you achieve your goals, we succeed as a province.”
After his remarks to the meeting, Hutchings said the growth of the industry is what’s prompting the government to appoint an assistant deputy minister of oceans, a pledge in the Progressive Conservatives’ Blue Book in the most recent election.

Rising sales
“I think the need is in recognition of the industry and the progress it’s made in the past number of years,” he said. “It’s certainly our strategy in terms of ocean technology and ocean development and opportunities to put a focus on that. Sales in the industry are progressing to over half a billion dollars, so this is an industry that’s on the move. We’re strategically located in the North Atlantic, we have 400 years of experience with harsh environments and working in them, and we’re developing new technology and we feel we need to provide that support, and this direction in the department will allow us to do that and work with stakeholders, partners in the community as we move forward and develop this industry.”
Adding that focusing on ocean technology is another way to diversify the provincial economy, Hutchings said the government expects to have the assistant deputy minister in place in the coming weeks.
“We’re moving into that process right now in terms of advertising, and that’ll be done very shortly,” he said. “From there we’ll roll out with the normal hiring practices and have someone come in and take over that position.”

dmaceachern@thetelegram.com
Twitter: TelegramDaniel

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