2020-21 Departmental Plan
Plans at a glance
In 2020-21, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) will continue to advance a strong, dynamic and inclusive economy in Atlantic Canada and ensure that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and communities are well positioned for sustained growth. To do so, the Agency will work with federal departments and the four provincial governments to promote innovation, business growth, tourism and community development in urban and rural areas. The Agency will also emphasize partnerships that bring together stakeholders from across the innovation ecosystem, that embrace inclusivity, and that foster the participation of all groups of Atlantic Canadians in the economy.
Together, these efforts will move the Government of Canada’s overall economic agenda forward, to create good middle class jobs and contribute to its strategies such as the Rural Economic Development Strategy and the Tourism Growth Strategy. These efforts will also support several mandate letter commitments, notably responding to opportunities and challenges of Atlantic Canadians, including being a convenor and trusted resource.
In collaboration with other regional development agencies (RDAs), the Agency will continue to deliver the Regional Economic Growth through Innovation (REGI) Program, a nationally coordinated, regionally tailored program designed to foster an entrepreneurial environment conducive to innovation, growth and competitiveness. By helping businesses strengthen their productivity and competitiveness, the program will help maintain and create good middle-class jobs for Canadians. The Agency will also continue to implement related initiatives such as the following: the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy’s Ecosystem Fund, to address gaps and build capacity in the entrepreneurship ecosystem for women; the Canada Coal Transition Initiative, to help communities in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick transition to a low-carbon economy after the closure of coal-fired electricity plants; and the Canadian Experiences Fund, to support communities across Canada to create and enhance tourism products, facilities and experiences.
In 2020-21, ACOA will implement bold ideas to support long-term growth in the region and ensure equal opportunities for Atlantic Canadian businesses and communities. Through the Agency’s key priorities and through large-scale, collaborative measures with federal departments, provincial governments and stakeholders such as the Atlantic Growth Strategy, ACOA will maintain its integrated and cohesive pan-Atlantic approach of leveraging collective skills, knowledge and assets to ignite growth. These efforts will move the region closer to reaching its full potential in the modern economy.
Businesses – The Agency will work with firms to capitalize on existing sector strengths and capacities, helping to scale up businesses and key industry sectors, and growing exports in markets with high-growth potential by:
- building on the economic potential of Atlantic Canada’s ocean resources, promoting Atlantic food and beverage products at home and abroad, and focusing on a strategic approach to tourism development in the region.
- supporting businesses and tourism operators, including Indigenous operators, through the Tourism Innovation Action Plan.
- continuing to implement the Atlantic Trade and Investment Growth Strategy to foster a culture of growth through exports, and to help regional firms become globally successful by diversifying and expanding their markets, and attracting foreign direct investment to Atlantic Canada.
- helping growth-oriented Atlantic Canadian businesses expand by providing them with essential, hands-on support through the Accelerated Growth Service.
Technologies – The Agency will support businesses in investing in new technology to improve their efficiency, productivity and competitiveness, and will foster the development of strong companies. ACOA will help Atlantic businesses to:
- pursue automation and the use of transformative advanced technologies, such as artificial intelligence and robotics.
- build stronger linkages with innovation ecosystems by working collectively with other public, private and institutional partners, and by supporting start-ups.
- adopt new technologies for increased productivity and competitiveness, including clean technologies.
Communities – The Agency will invest in inclusive growth and provide support to build SMEs and invest in community capacity to plan, attract, hire and retain skilled talent. ACOA will:
- work with its provincial and federal partners to increase the region’s skilled workforce and strengthen the economy and diversity of Atlantic Canadian communities through supporting and building awareness around immigration and through the attraction and retention of newcomers and their families.
- support Indigenous economic development by strengthening partnerships and working with other government departments as well as with Indigenous governments and economic associations.
- help non-profit, third-party organizations deliver support for under-represented entrepreneurs and address gaps in the ecosystem to help them grow their businesses and pursue new market opportunities.
For more information on ACOA’s plans, priorities and planned results, see the “Core responsibilities: planned results and resources, and key risks” section of this report.
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