BROOKLYN, QUEEN'S COUNTY – Thousands of people working in Nova Scotia's forestry industry will benefit from a new centre for cleaner energy, bioenergy and forestry innovation that will help the province's forestry industry thrive in the future, says the provicial government.
Premier Darrell Dexter was in Brooklyn, Queens Co., Wednesday to announce the province will partner with Innovacorp, Emera and CelluFuel to transform the former Bowater Mersey mill into a centre that will drive new opportunities through innovation.
"The former Bowater mill could be left to sit empty, with the equipment gathering dust," said Premier Dexter, in a news relaese. "I know there is plenty of life left in this mill, plenty of opportunity to develop new products not yet imagined, and to test and demonstrate technologies that will help bring those products to new and existing markets.
"This centre will breathe new life and innovation into Nova Scotia's changing forestry industry, and create opportunities for the good jobs Nova Scotia families rely on."
The centre will offer companies a research, development and demonstration site, and provide support for businesses of all sizes to make the most of the province's forestry resources. Establishing this centre is in keeping with the province's natural resources strategy, The Path We Share, jobsHere, and recommendations from the Bowater Transition Advisory Team.
Innovacorp will provide advice and planning support, and use up to $500,000 in provincial funding to cover start-up costs such as developing a business plan, establishing key partnerships for research and technology development, and identifying partnership opportunities for public and private funding. Nova Scotia Lands, a Crown corporation, will oversee the industrial site.
"We know firsthand at Innovacorp that there's vibrant innovation and entrepreneurship happening all across Nova Scotia," said Innovacorp interim CEO Jacquelyn Thayer Scott. "We are delighted to assist the new centre in accelerating the commercial development and business growth of the technology companies that will call it home."
Emera has signed on as the centre's first tenant, with a commitment to invest at least $1 million over the next five years. This follows an announcement earlier this week that Emera will purchase Brooklyn Power from the province.
"Emera has a long history of investing in Queens County and we are pleased to be able to sign on today as the first tenant in this new facility," said Emera president and CEO Chris Huskilson. "The centre will provide the opportunity for Emera to invest in research and development and find innovative ways for the Acadian Forest to continue to play a role in the Nova Scotia economy and in our clean, renewable energy future."
CelluFuel, a Nova Scotia company focused on commercializing renewable fuels in Eastern Canada and the United States, will also use the centre. The province is adding to a $500,000 private-sector investment in CelluFuel with $500,000 to help the company deploy technology to turn Nova Scotia woody biomass into renewable diesel fuel.
"We are excited about the creation of this new centre at the former Bowater Mill site and the economic development opportunities that it will enable," said CelluFuel president Chris Hooper. "Having a platform such as this in Nova Scotia is a critical component in the commercial development of clean and renewable energy companies such as ours."
The clean and renewable energy sector is growing rapidly. The United States will need 22 billion gallons of biofuels in 10 years, up from four million today, and 30 of the Fortune 100 companies invest in bioenergy and bio-based products.
Region of Queens Municipality Mayor Christopher Clarke welcomed the news, noting the centre's potential to support innovation locally and beyond.
"I would like to thank the province for this bold step forward. It's great to see the Bowater lands being put to productive use," said Mayor Clarke. "We are excited to see Emera as the owner of Brooklyn Power. It will ensure its future and the region of Queens has a long, strong relationship with Emera and Nova Scotia Power. Developing an innovation centre at the mill site is a farsighted and courageous move, and one which we support."
Work to set up the new centre will begin immediately.
"Nova Scotia's forestry industry is changing, and we have to change with it," said Natural Resources Minister Charlie Parker. "Our forests are a renewable resource, one that can be with us for generations. Innovation and research will play a big part, and this centre, and our partners, will be instrumental in that."
"Our jobsHere plan calls for more focus on innovation to help grow Nova Scotia's economy," said Premier Dexter. "Innovation in our forestry industry will be a key part of protecting and creating jobs, now and in the future."
The province recently purchased the thermo-mechanical pulp mill as part of its agreement with Resolute Forest Products and the Washington Post Company.