Changes in Technology & Politics and their effect on Business
Halifax has much to offer – a diverse, healthy economy, an eclectic cultural life and relaxed lifestyle accentuated by its ocean-front setting. It has an exciting, vibrant city life without the overcrowding,
Halifax has much to offer – a diverse, healthy economy, an eclectic cultural life and relaxed lifestyle accentuated by its ocean-front setting. It has an exciting, vibrant city life without the overcrowding, plus the serenity of open land and pristine beaches. With more green spaces per capita than most Canadian cities, and reasonable housing costs, Halifax offers an affordable, comfortable lifestyle.
There is no shortage of Maritime hospitality in Halifax. Over 1.5 million people visit the city annually to attend special cultural activities – which attests to the fact that Halifax has the greatest number of Festivals in the Province. The following is a list of many of the cultural activities, events, sports and recreational facilities to enjoy in Metropolitan Halifax.
11 formal parks, over 1000 acres,
178 neighbourhood parks
46 sports fields
66 public tennis courts
77 baseball diamonds
6 yacht Clubs
5 curling clubs
9 golf clubs
2 supervised ocean beaches
12 supervised lakes
5 public indoor pools
2 public outdoor pools
3 major athletic complexes
10 public arenas
1 municipal campground
Symphony Nova Scotia
Art Gallery of Nova Scotia
Maritime Museum of the Atlantic
Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History
Halifax Citadel National Historic Site
Point Pleasant Park
Nova Scotia International Tattoo
The International Buskers Festival
Atlantic Jazz Festival
Atlantic Film Festival
Atlantic Fringe Festival
Scotia Festival of Music
Halifax ranks among the top ten cities in Canada for household income, and second for per capita retail spending – not surprising considering that the city’s commercial, professional, educational and financial institutions serve all of Atlantic Canada. Haligonians are well employed with high spending power, which means business for anyone located in the Central Business District.
Halifax, the financial center of the Maritimes, has 25,000 workers in the 35 block Central Business District. The primary trade area is home to 213,700 residents, representing an estimated $1.876 billion in annual retail sales. Haligonians are slightly younger than the provincial average, with a high representation of 20 to 34 year olds. This factors into the unique mix you will find only in Downtown: a diverse business sector; specialty retail, food and beverage; live music, theater, art galleries; and a vibrant Downtown and Waterfront.
Halifax’s economy has proven to be stable even in tough economic times. Halifax is home to municipal, provincial and federal government offices and headquarters for regional, national, and international corporations and financial institutions. This economic diversity has long been a steadying influence on the workforce and on the value of real property in a city that does not suffer from huge swings in the economy.
Historically, Halifax has always been well-connected because of its strategically located and well-protected harbor; railways; ferries; highways; international airport; and now sophisticated data link. This combination of transportation, communications and information networks enable Halifax to actively trade on a global scale.
Tourism, a growth industry in Nova Scotia, contributes over 700,000 overnight quests to major Halifax hotels and $250 million into the city’s economy annually. The growth in the ‘Cruse Ship’ market over the past ten years has been remarkable with 120 ships planning stopovers in the 2002 season. On the leading edge of this influx of visitors are business travelers attending conferences, trade shows and meeting in Downtown office complexes, hotels and the World Trade and Convention Centre.
The financial, cultural, and transportation hub of Atlantic Canada, Halifax has made huge strides in the last 10 years. One key indicator, residential construction, is booming, fueled by low interest rates, a developing offshore oil and gas industry, and a strong business sector.
Halifax has lead the way in changing the way Nova Scotian’s think about their future. The practice of “going down the road” to places such as Toronto and Calgary for work is fading into the past. More of the city’s young people are finding work downtown or in one of the Halifax Regional Municipality’s business parks. Currently there are 1,894 businesses in downtown Halifax alone, putting the areas employment rate at an impressive 92.4%. The average household income for those employees is $54,940.
While it remains a regional draw, people from the other countries are coming to Halifax to live and work, which is an about face from five years ago. This increase in immigration will continue into the next decade. The boom in population is a fairly recent one. In fact, Halifax is one of the fastest growing cities in Canada, ranking with Calgary and Toronto in sustained growth over the 1996-2001 census period. In Atlantic Canada, the Halifax Regional Municipality is the only area maintaining sustained growth of almost 5% during the same period.
Within the metropolitan area itself, areas outside the “old city” are the fastest growing, with sections of the Eastern Shore northeast of Dartmouth and the Bedford-Clayton Park section northwest of Halifax among those receiving the greatest sustained population growth. Only two areas – an underdeveloped largely industrial section near Dartmouth Cove and a tiny section in north Dartmouth – actually lost significant population.
Obviously, Halifax’s population will continue to grow. This, combined with a steadily decreasing unemployment rate, stable growth in personal and disposable income, and gathering strength in retail sales, paints a picture of an economically stronger city. Part of that strength comes from a diverse and maturing economy. Although service sector jobs currently outnumber those in the goods sector 8:1, goods jobs – primary, manufacturing, construction, and utilities- will increase over the next decade at a faster rate than service jobs.
These days, commercial property is hot. For example, the downtown Class A office rental rate increased 12.4% from mid 2000 to mid 2001. Vacancy rates fell as new companies, many from the oil and gas sector, moved into town. In an improving business climate, existing tenants expanded their operations. The oil and gas industry the main cause for all the office leasing excitement – also depends on industrial sections of Halifax Harbour for fabrication and servicing. The sector, through the trickle-down effect, also creates new opportunities for services, training, and information technology.
Although there has been no rush to build new office buildings in HRM, there have been hundreds of upgrades and renovations to existing buildings to make them more attractive to prospective tenants. A the trend continues, the number of non-residential building permits will rise from the 128,000 issued in 2002 to more than 214,000 in 2012.