CORNER BROOK — A federal minister visited Corner Brook on Tuesday to encourage local businesses to get involved in the shipbuilding strategy to renew Canada’s naval and coast guard fleets.
Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Peter Penashue, who is also the regional minister for Newfoundland and Labrador, spoke at an Atlantic Shipbuilding Action Plan supplier development session at the Glynmill Inn.
The session was organized by the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) to ensure businesses fully understand the process and the requirements to access opportunities attached to the 20- to 30-year initiative to renew the fleets.
“As regional minister for Newfoundland and Labrador it is encouraging to see so many small- and medium-sized enterprises are interested in getting involved,” Penashue told those gathered.
He said the $33-billion shipbuilding plan was launched in February and is geared to providing businesses with the information and tools they need to take advantage of the shipbuilding activity that will take place in Halifax, N.S.
Penashue said at the end of the session the participants would understand the processes, and have the information to know what they need to do to prepare to be involved. He said this includes certification, processing improvements, marketing and technology acquisition.
Skilled labour force
Penashue said the spinoffs of the shipbuilding activity in Halifax will be felt in communities all over the Atlantic region and businesses in this province already have the state of the art infrastructure and skilled labour force to participate.
“Together these qualities give Newfoundland and Labrador a strategic advantage in realizing the economic opportunities that will come from this shipbuilding activity,” Penashue said.
After addressing the group, Penashue said the strategy is there to encourage and be supportive to the industries that are looking to make headway into the shipbuilding contracts.
“It’s open to any business, but obviously this is a shipbuilding contract and the seminar is explaining just exactly what those are and what those opportunities will be, and for those companies that are interested in exploring those options this is the place to be,” he said.
Penashue said this also includes educational institutions that will be able to offer training for potential workers.
Finding out how College of the North Atlantic can play a role in the shipbuilding is what brought Denis Dumont to the session.
“I usually attend these information sessions just to get an idea of what’s going on in the industry. What are the needs that are being looked at? Is there any need for training,” said Dumont, a business development officer.
He was also interested in finding out if there is any money available for funding programs or hiring employees to feed into the supply chain.
Dumont said there were some direct and indirect ways of connecting into the supply chain discussed that interested him.
“There was some things discussed where the college can definitely either be there in a research capacity or be there with training individuals to meet the demand for people to work on these vessels.”
Glen Sullivan is in the fabrication business and he sees lots of potential for his company to get involved as a supplier.
“Because I’m a fabricator and they’re going to be fabricating ships, so everything that’s made of steel will be fabricated, so any of those things I could possibly fit into what the requirements are,” said the general manager of A.H.M. Fabricators
Sullivan said his company already has a lot of the qualifications and certifications the shipbuilders will be looking for.
“And this is a long-term project ... so it would be a good fit for us to be in the supply chain, especially if we can get in early.”