State of the Strait Highlights Collaboration as Key to Success

State of the Strait Highlights Collaboration as Key to Success

Port Hawkesbury, NS – The Strait Area Chamber of Commerce hosted its annual State of the Strait Business Update event on March 11th at the Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre.  The event attracted over 100 of the region’s business and community leaders to hear about activities in three key sectors of the economy; Tourism, Health, and Industry.

The day kicked off with an update on the Nova Scotia Quality of Life Initiative from Engage NS CEO Danny Graham. Trends from the unprecedented research project that surveyed some 12,000 Nova Scotians included insight into how people are choosing to live and work in places that reflect their values. That sentiment was echoed throughout the day’s presentations.

The Ski Cape Smokey and Tree Walk presentation by Martin Kejval, Director of Operations, was focused on capitalizing on the beauty of Cape Breton in all seasons. The power of partnerships that brought the Canal Landing in St. Peter’s by Tahirih Paul and Nadine Ratchford’s overview of the innovative Community Outreach Program at CBU that shuttled international students across the Island to meet the urgent needs of tourism providers. Over 2200 shifts were worked by those students – a testament to the great value that this program brought to the Island!

The Business of Health panel focused on the impact of pressures on our health care system, particularly related to facilities and recruitment of health care professionals. Early results of the Chamber’s 2020 Member Survey show that physician recruitment is as high a priority for businesses as the long-standing number one issue, the attraction/retention of employees. Michael Hatt discussed the transformative improvements to the Gateway Plaza health care facilities, Dr. Kristen Sutherland discussed her collaborative practice in Inverness, and Dr. Trevor Boudreau spoke about the new Cape Breton South Recruiting for Health group that’s stepped up to take recruitment to a whole new level and is encouraging businesses to engage.

Melinda Cole from Cermaq was next in outlining the opportunity for aquaculture development on the East Coast, building on the success of their BC operations, and the consultative approach they are taking on a controversial industry. Moving from the ocean to the forests, Jim Mustard and Jean Conrad described the opportunity in Middle River to take advantage of forestry assets to create an innovative, creative woodworking destination on the Island.  Allan Eddy of Port Hawkesbury Paper rounded out the day describing the incredible innovation and diversification initiatives that they are taking, the region’s largest employer, to ensure they are competitive in a global marketplace and to invite collaborations with local companies.

The event concluded with an inspiring keynote from Glynn Williams of Authentic Seacoast on the economic potential of rural Nova Scotia. His business in Guysborough is the first distillery, brewery, vineyard, hopyard, apiary in the world! Diversification with products that align with the Authentic Seacoast brand, and finding new markets for exporting, have been key to the success of his company. Patience and perseverance have been critical for his team as the company turns 15 years old this year, and celebrates the 5th anniversary of one of their signature products, Fortress Rum.

The event was hosted by Richie Mann, Past President of the Strait Area Chamber, and Vice President of Marketing and Government Relations for Melford International Terminal and Melford Atlantic Gateway.  His final remarks addressed the departure of the Chamber’s Executive Director, Amanda Mombourquette, from her role to a position at the NSCC. “Amanda has contributed a great deal to building the Chamber and she has taken on challenging advocacy roles on our behalf. Amanda, along with the presenters today, highlighted how cooperation and collaboration has been key to the success of their efforts, and that speaks volumes about the capacity of this region to work together and grow,” explained Mr. Mann.

Amanda’s final remarks were in keeping with the theme of the day, “This is a bittersweet moment for me, leading my last event as your Executive Director. My greatest lesson has been that Chamber Members are community builders – like everyone here, they see the strength and value in working together to build a stronger economy, and it’s been my great privilege to be an advocate for our #ChamberFamily for almost 5 years.”

For more information on upcoming Chamber activities, visit, follow us on social media, or contact the Strait Area Chamber office at 902-625-1588, or email

The Strait Area Chamber of Commerce 2020 State of the Strait Annual Business Update event was sponsored by Port Hawkesbury Paper, Nova Scotia Power, Richmond County, East Coast Credit Union, Nova Scotia Business Inc., Grant Thornton, Cape Breton Partnership, MacLeod Lorway, NovaStream and our Media Sponsor, 1015 The Hawk.

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