‘It’s a nat­u­ral suc­ces­sion’

Ter­mi­nal project of­fi­cial takes over as pres­i­dent of Strait Area Cham­ber of Com­merce

Cape Breton Post - - Cape Breton - BY NANCY KING nk­ing@cb­post.com

A se­nior of­fi­cial with the pro­posed Melford In­ter­na­tional Ter­mi­nal de­vel­op­ment is the new pres­i­dent of the Strait Area Cham­ber of Com­merce.

Richie Mann is the vi­cepres­i­dent of mar­ket­ing and gov­ern­ment re­la­tions with the ter­mi­nal project. A na­tive of St. Peter’s, he is also a former pro­vin­cial Lib­eral cab­i­net min­is­ter and MLA for the rid­ing of Rich­mond.

In an in­ter­view Tues­day, Mann noted he has been deeply in­volved in the cham­ber for about a decade and is prob­a­bly cur­rently the long­est-serv­ing mem­ber of its ex­ec­u­tive, hav­ing pre­vi­ously held roles in­clud­ing first and sec­ond vice-pres­i­dent.

“It’s a nat­u­ral suc­ces­sion, I guess, to move on and take up the pres­i­dency,” Mann said. “I think it’s a very good or­ga­ni­za­tion, it’s a very ac­tive cham­ber.”

The body has more than 300 mem­bers through­out the Strait of Canso area.

Mann be­lieves it has had good suc­cess in rep­re­sent­ing the in­ter­ests of the re­gion’s busi­ness com­mu­nity and act­ing as an ad­vo­cate.

“It’s an or­ga­ni­za­tion that I think pro­vides good ben­e­fit and pro­vides good in­for­ma­tion,” he said.

The Strait area, like other parts of ru­ral Nova Sco­tia, is fac­ing chal­lenges re­lat­ing to em­ploy­ment.

“All of our busi­ness com­mu­ni­ties and re­tail sec­tors and every­thing else is de­pen­dent on hav­ing sta­ble em­ploy­ment and a grow­ing econ­omy,” Mann said. “In the Strait area, tra­di­tion­ally we’ve been very de­pen­dent on large in­dus­try, the pulp and pa­per in­dus­try and every­thing form oil re­finer­ies to Nova Sco­tia Power and oth­ers. While some of them still ex­ist and are on­go­ing en­ti­ties, some have been di­min­ished in terms of em­ploy­ment and there’s been chal­lenges to di­ver­sify.”

There are some po­ten­tial bright spots on the hori­zon, he added, with the pro­posed Bear Head LNG project and the re­lated Bear Paw pipe­line, as well as his own com­pany’s pro­posed con­tainer ter­mi­nal de­vel­op­ment at Melford, Guys­bor­ough County.

The Nova Sco­tia Com­mu­nity Col­lege’s Strait Area Cam­pus and its Nau­ti­cal In­sti­tute also rep­re­sent a bright spot for the re­gion, he added. The fish­ery also re­mains a strong eco­nomic driver.

“There’s chal­lenges, but there’s good op­por­tu­ni­ties, there’s rea­son for op­ti­mism,” Mann said. “I think what we’ve seen in the Strait, and in per­haps a lot of ways led by the cham­ber of com­merce, we see more and more work­ing to­gether, com­ing to­gether as a com­mu­nity, com­ing to­gether as in­dus­tries to re­ally help and be there for each other.”

As for Melford, last July af­ter al­most a decade in de­vel­op­ment, they an­nounced that SSA Marine had come on­board as an op­er­a­tor and the part­ners would pro­ceed to the next stage of at­tempt­ing to lure ship­ping lines.

“We’ve got in­vestors that have been pa­tient, that have been bullish on this and con­tinue to be that,” Mann said. “We con­tinue to move the ball down­field. I per­son­ally think we’re get­ting to a point where we can see the light at the end of the tun­nel, if you will, and we’re ex­tremely optimistic that some­thing will be hap­pen­ing there rel­a­tively soon.”

Mann said they are get­ting closer to mak­ing a fur­ther an­nounce­ment about the project, say­ing while that likely is more than 30 days away “it’s not years, ei­ther.”

“We rec­og­nize that some of the things that have to hap­pen to make a ter­mi­nal real are not within our con­trol, they’re con­trolled by some global con­di­tions or by com­pa­nies and part­ners that are in­volved in the global in­dus­try,” he said.

Prior to en­ter­ing pol­i­tics, Mann worked at what was then the Stora pa­per mill in Point Tup­per.


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