CANADA SPECIAL: Nova Scotia

CANADA SPECIAL: Nova Scotia
Will Freeman

By Will Freeman

November 26th 2009 at 7:30AM

Moving onto our final region, we visit the western peninsula province

Although it is one of the smaller provinces in terms of land mass in Canada, Nova Scotia is a booming state populated by a number of the country’s leading developers.

And Nova Scotia Business Inc., or NSBI – the southeastern peninsula province’s private sector-led business development agency ­– has witness first-hand the area’s growth as a force for games development.

Conceived to assist local business and attract international companies to the region, the NSBI offers a range of services, including investment attraction, trade development, business advice, business financing and venture capital.

Describing itself as an ‘arms-length’, private sector led agency, NSBI works with the Trade Commissioners Service, and offers payroll rebates to companies looking to locate in Nova Scotia.

Meanwhile, the Government of Nova Scotia has created a Digital Media Tax Credit of 25 per cent of total production costs, with a regional bonus of another five per cent for non-metro areas.

“We believe the tax credits have helped to develop Canada into a world power in game development,” explains Jayson Hilchie, director of information technology and interactive media, investment attraction. “Obviously the availability of talented labour and competitive business costs play into any equation, but the credits have set us apart in terms of government support to this industry.”

NSBI also employs a labour strategist to help the area’s companies with headhunting and securing talent. The specialist devises strategies to help hit employment targets, and in a wider context, the NSBI works with firms to help with work permit questions and labour market opinions.

“Ubisoft is beginning to expand outside of Quebec with its recent announcement of 800 new jobs in Toronto,” says Hilchie.

“Other companies are going to begin to look to other Canadian provinces, like Nova Scotia, for their labour needs as Quebec becomes more competitive. We have also seen new independent companies springing up and releasing successful games.

“Nova Scotia, in particular, ranked one of the most cost-competitive locations in Canada to operate a gaming studio. We are home to 11 universities and 13 community college campuses, along with a number of private post-secondary institutions with a focus on digital arts.

“Situated half way between western Europe and the western US, our time zone allows you to do business with both sides of the Atlantic and the west coast of the US on the same work day,” he adds.

“Plus, Nova Scotia offers balance. This beautiful province is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, offers short commute times, and a quality of life that is second to none. In turn, smart, creative people thrive here – a bonus for game studios.”

NSBI has pledged a commitment to continue to nurture the cohesive cooperation between academia, industry and government, with an aim to enhance the territory’s business environment. With a future-proofed approach to its methods in achieving such aims, it looks like Nova Scotia should be attracting new companies for a good while yet.