When it comes to supporting high-tech industries, Nova Scotia should look to fishing and the Cape Breton community of Louisbourg as much as it looks to Halifax and IT startups.
That was the message politicians heard Tuesday at a legislature committee from Dannie Hanson, the vice-president of sustainability and public affairs for Louisbourg Seafoods Ltd.
His pitch: Traditional industries in rural, coastal communities need IT support from the provincial government, too. His concern, he said, is the province is too focussed on helping IT businesses in larger centres.
Hanson said companies such as Louisbourg Seafoods have invested heavily in automation and high-tech machinery to process catches and manage operations.
'Not a soul knows how to turn it on'
A crab machine costing $1.8 million was installed last year, he said, and another $1.3-million pressure machine was "hooked up the other day."
"Not a soul knows how to turn it on," Hanson said. "If it breaks, not a soul knows how to fix it in Cape Breton."
He said right now technicians have to be brought in from Iceland.
Hanson said the province would reap major benefits by investing in IT training for those who live and work in smaller costal communities.
"Your employment will start quicker than if you just did little startups," he said. "Startups are extremely important, startups are very important but they're not building enough capacity of employment because starting a business takes five years."