Halifax: a Canadian gateway to the world

Halifax, the economic heart of Atlantic Canada, is a strategic gateway for international business, reflected in thriving financial, aerospace and defence, ocean and digital sectors

Halifax is defined by its talented people, its successful business sectors and its strategic location. With six universities and three community college campuses enrolling over 30,000 students annually, Halifax is a smart city. Over 67% of the workforce has post-secondary certification, and 34% have a university certificate, diploma or degree. Halifax also has a critical mass of public and private sector scientists doing world-class research and development in life sciences, oceans, aerospace and defence, renewable energy and environmental studies.

Halifax is strategically located for moving goods into the North American continent and delivering services across European and Caribbean time zones. With the deepest container berths on the East Coast of North America, the Port of Halifax can handle the largest container ships and has more scheduled liner services and direct calls than any other Canadian port. The city’s award-winning Halifax Stanfield International Airport services 28,000 metric tons of cargo and 3.5 million passengers annually. Halifax Shipyard boasts world-class expertise in building combat and non-combat vessels and was recently awarded a $25 billion contract to build the Canadian Navy’s next fleet of combat vessels over the next 30 years.

Halifax’s relative proximity to major financial centres in London and New York and direct data routing to both centres makes it an ideal place to locate financial services. Halifax is already home to the regional headquarters of Canada’s five largest banks as well as several major hedge fund companies.

Halifax has one of the most diverse economies in Canada, with many strong sectors including education, life sciences, financial services, aerospace and defence, ICT and digital technologies, ocean technology, transportation and logistics. 

Why Halifax

Halifax’s economy continues to show steady, positive growth each year. This stability is, in part, why major international financial services companies such as TD Bank Group, Butterfield Fulcrum Group Limited and Citco (Canada) Inc. have recently expanded in Halifax.

Halifax is home to:

  • The headquarters of major Canadian companies including Clearwater Seafoods Limited, Emera Inc. (utilities), IMP Group International, INC (aerospace), and Maritime Travel
  • The most regional head offices in Atlantic Canada, including Canada’s “big five” banks
  • Canada’s largest concentration of insurance companies
  • The largest share of Department of National Defence assets in Canada, including the East Coast Navy
  • The largest Canadian commercial aerospace and defence cluster east of Montreal
  • One of Canada’s largest clusters of health care facilities
  • The largest seaport and airport in Atlantic Canada
  • Six degree-granting institutions and three community college campuses enrolling over 30,000 students annually
  • Nearly 45% of Nova Scotia’s population and 17% of Atlantic Canadians


Business advantage

Halifax is a great place to situate, grow or expand a business. Halifax has one of the most talented workforces in the country supporting business growth.

With some of the most competitive business costs in North America, Halifax provides excellent value for investment. In KPMG’s 2012 Competitive Alternatives, Halifax ranked 4th out of 113 cities for overall business costs when judged in manufacturing, corporate/IT and research and development sectors. Halifax also ranks as one of the most competitive office rental markets in Canada.

Local partners provide incentives to help businesses succeed in Halifax. The Nova Scotia Payroll Rebate and Productivity Investment Programs reward firms that create jobs and invest in capital and workforce productivity. The Federal Government’s Atlantic Innovation Fund and Scientific Research & Experimental Development Programs support experimental development and innovation in the region. The Greater Halifax Partnership’s award-winning SmartBusiness initiative leverages relationships and partners in the region to help businesses realize their potential.

Future plans

Halifax’s strong economy is supporting numerous development projects including:

  • $25 billion contract to build the Canadian Navy’s next fleet of combat vessels over the next 30 years
  • Implementation of AGREATERHalifax, Halifax’s Economic Strategy for 2011-2016
  • $500 million multi-use convention centre in downtown Halifax and another development, same cost, on the Dartmouth waterfront
  • $70 million Life Sciences Research Institute and $30 Million Oceans Excellence Centre at Dalhousie University
  • $105 million in improvements to cargo handling facilities at the Port of Halifax 
  • $116 million in transit system upgrades for ferry, bus and road services
  • $28 million runway extension at Halifax International Airport
  • $117 million to build a new headquarters for Canada’s federal police service, the RCMP and for Emera
  • New $55 million public library in downtown Halifax

Download a PDF version of this profile here