Commentary Sponsored

Strength in Numbers

The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency’s Business Development Program (BDP) can provide financial assistance, in the form of non-repayable assistance, to not-for-profit organizations like the Atlantic Canada Aerospace and Defence Association. Eligible not-for-profit organizations can apply for BDP financing to undertake projects that help Atlantic Canadian small and medium-sized enterprises to grow, become more competitive and increase their productivity.

What do approximately 200 assorted Atlantic Canadian firms specializing in everything from manufacturing and repairing complex systems to training and surveillance services have in common?

They all belong to the Atlantic Canada Aerospace and Defence Association (ACADA).

ACADA is a not-for-profit organization that provides its members with unified leadership, advocacy and member services to support and grow the aerospace and defence industry in Atlantic Canada.

Created in 2016, when industry associations in all four Atlantic Provinces decided to amalgamate, ACADA’s membership includes small- to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the civil and commercial aerospace, defence, marine and security industries.

The potential of this sector in Atlantic Canada is well recognized by the Government of Canada, through the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, and each Atlantic Province, as both levels of government help fund ACADA activities. While the region constitutes only 6 per cent of the national population, the financial impact of its aerospace, defence, marine and security industries contributes almost $1.3 billion to the region’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). If indirect and induced impacts are included, the overall economic contribution to Atlantic Canada’s GDP grows to $2.85 billion.

In terms of employment, companies in these industries account for direct employment of over 22,700 people. The combined provincial level tax revenue for Atlantic Canada from this sector is estimated to be $770.6 million.

Much of the industry’s success is due to the region’s diverse and skilled talent pool. There are accredited sector and skilled trade training programs at all five of Atlantic Canada’s community colleges, and highly regarded undergraduate and graduate courses at all the region’s universities.

The academic capabilities of the region are amplified by the Springboard Atlantic Network, which connects the 19 universities and colleges in the region and provides strategically positioned resources, helping them transfer both knowledge and technology into the private sector.  This connectivity of skilled professionals in academia with like-minded contacts in industry drives new collaborations and supports research commercialization in Atlantic Canada.

Translating our commitment into action

ACADA’s targeted activities and service programming focuses on sector development in six key areas:

  1. Advocacy
  2. Marketing/Promotion
  3. Business Development/Supply Chain Engagement
  4. Member Development
  5. Innovation & Commercialization; and
  6. Workforce Development & Career Promotion

A dedicated team comprised of four head office personnel and provincial directors in Charlottetown, Fredericton, Halifax and St. John’s, carry out the priorities of the ACADA Work Plan under the direction of the President and Board of Directors. While each province has unique opportunities and challenges requiring individualized activities and training, similarities are identified and form the basis for broader applications, particularly regarding the workforce.

Here is a brief summary of the work that ACADA has been doing in service to its membership:

In the last year, ACADA has helped members participate in five regional and national symposiums, conferences and trade shows. International activities included two U.S. expositions (Sea Air Space in Washington DC and I/ITSEC in Florida) and the DSEi exposition in the UK. At these events, delegate companies exhibited, networked and took part in business-to-business meetings and partner collaboration engagements. ACADA also assisted Atlantic companies at the Paris International Air Show in LeBourget, France.

As well, four ‘Business Development and Supply Chain Engagement Day’ events were successfully hosted by ACADA.

In the final quarter of 2017, training and information sessions relating to AS9100 were delivered to ACADA members on such subjects as: internal auditor training; funding; government procurement; safety training; accreditation; export; and security.

ACADA is also directly involved with the federal and provincial Atlantic Trade and Investment Growth Strategy (ATIGS), which focuses on helping Atlantic companies access markets that would have otherwise be out of reach. Under this Strategy, ACADA is developing an industry strategy and will be responsible for implementing many of the activities involved.

As a member driven organization, ACADA’s planning, design and execution is predicated on industry company needs, both current and anticipated.  It is ACADA’s goal to expand the opportunities for its membership to grow, diversify and excel.

– Rich Billard, President and CEO, ACADA