The fundamental sense of community in Atlantic Canada extends beyond the individual level and into the world of business. And it may just be the secret behind the incredible success of entrepreneurs in Canada’s eastern provinces.

A rising tide lifts all ships

Atlantic Canada has always been rich in entrepreneurial spirit, going back generations. McCain Foods, the world’s largest producer of french fries and other frozen foods, was founded here 1957. “We have deep roots in New Brunswick,” says Shai Altman, President of McCain Foods Canada, “especially in the Florenceville-Bristol area, and we recognize the strategic importance of the region to our business.” 

McCain Foods is just one of the many established companies that take part in the robust business acceleration and mentorship programs Atlantic Canada offers to nurture start-ups through their initial stages. Programs like those of Propel ICT; an organization that connects entrepreneurs with mentors in a focused environment and produces cohorts of successful start-ups year after year.

“There are great economic benefits of course when you have these investments in your community.”

Though the inherent kind-heartedness of Atlantic Canada has certainly played a role in the development of this particular community approach to business acceleration, business leaders in the region recognize the advantages to themselves as well. “The old guard don’t see these new companies as competitors,” explains Larry Shaw, CEO of Knowledge Park & Ignite Fredericton. “Instead they recognize that the more business activity we can create, the more business activity we can then participate in.” A rising tide, after all, lifts all ships, as Atlantic Canadians are intimately aware.

Local support, global reach

“The region is a playground and hotbed for people investing in start-ups and for companies growing their business,” says Steve Carson, CEO of Enterprise St. John. It’s no surprise when, in addition to the supportive business community, Atlantic Canada has, according the KPMG Guide to International Business Location, overall business facility costs of just 70 percent of the Canadian average. Government initiatives are also a key ingredient, with some of the most favourable business taxation rates on the continent. “Economic development is a top priority for the Government of New Brunswick,” says Altman.

And increasingly word of this playground is spreading beyond the confines of Atlantic Canada. Four cities in the region have been named over recent years among the top seven intelligent communities on the planet by the Intelligent Community Forum in New York, which identifies communities that act as role models for the world’s best practices in creating competitive local economies.

This international attention is drawing international investment and immigration to the region. And both are very welcome. “There are great economic benefits of course when you have these investments in your community,” says Carson. “But the social and cultural benefits that come with new people bringing new ideas and new approaches are something that we especially value.”

Talking to business leaders in Atlantic Canada, it becomes very clear that this sentiment is a common one. Atlantic Canadians may always have their heart at home, but they are also always looking outwards. “The Atlantic Canada marketplace is not big enough to grow on itself,” says Shaw.

“The only way it can grow is to have a global view to the marketplace. Companies now coming out of our start-up community are already born global.”

This global reach is facilitated by Atlantic Canada’s incredible transportation and telecommunications network which makes connecting with domestic and international clients, both physically and digitally, more convenient than nearly anywhere else in the world. The region is the fastest growing nationwide in the export of information, communication, and technology goods.

Between the supportive business community and the direct economical and connectivity advantages, it’s no wonder that more and more new businesses are choosing Atlantic Canada as their home.