Liberals say plan will help small, medium businesses

Published on May 19, 2017

Liberal leader Stephen McNeil visited the Nova Scotia Spirit Company’s future home on Foord Street in Stellarton on Friday morning. Pictured from left are: Pictou Centre candidate Jeff Davis, Alex Rice of the Nova Scotia Spirit Co., Liberal leader Stephen McNeil, Pictou West candidate Ben MacLean and Pictou East candidate John Fraser.

©Adam MacInnis

If the Liberals are re-elected to govern Nova Scotia, their leader Stephen McNeil said residents won’t get the exact same as they’ve had the last 3 1/2 years.

“We’re actually laying out a progressive plan going forward,” McNeil said during an interview in Stellarton where he was campaigning Friday. “We haven’t been reliving the last three and a half years. We’ve made decisions, and I’m very proud of our record, but this election is about the next three and a half years.”

Those new initiatives include great access to pre-primary and a tax cut for seven in ten Nova Scotians he said as well as insuring that the highway is twinned between Sutherlands River and Antigonish and more doctor recruitment.

While in Stellarton visiting the Nova Scotia Spirit Co. new location, he also announced that a new Liberal government would create an Innovation Rebate Program to promote job growth by helping small- and medium-sized businesses expand.

“Small business is the primary engine of our economy and job creation,” said McNeil. “By helping entrepreneurs to expand, we will also help create more jobs for young Nova Scotians.”

McNeil also said a Liberal government will reduce red-tape and taxes for small business, plus invest $5 million annually to assist businesses to grow and stay in the province.

Under the terms of the new program, government will assist with capital investments. This will help established businesses remain rooted within their communities.

Eligible businesses will receive rebates of up to 15 per cent for capital investments between $3 million and $15 million.

The new program will have strong elements of accountability attached to its criteria – and all potential investments will be closely monitored, what he called a stark contrast to previous administrations, which often provided blank cheques to large corporations.

“In addition to helping businesses grow, the new program will also have significant spinoffs, employing skilled tradespeople in the construction phase,” McNeil said. “We want to encourage Nova Scotia’s entrepreneurs – and by helping them grow their businesses, we will increase job opportunities for everyone.”

In addition to the rebate program, a new Liberal government will also direct the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation and Department of Finance to adopt policies that encourage more growth in the province’s local wine, distilling and craft beer industries. Policies will include marketing and promotion and better retail and distribution of local products. 

Alex Rice, one of the partners who started the Nova Scotia Spirit Co., said it was exciting news and he was happy to have McNeil visit their facility.

He said they’re incredibly proud of how their business has grown over the last two years. Their new location is expected to help grow the company even more, from nine employees to upwards of 50 or 60 seasonally and 25 year-round.

Their new location will feature a restaurant and they’re also looking at the possibility of adding a distillery.

“We get inquiries all the time, “How do we come see you guys? How do we do a tour?” Rice said. “We’re really not structurally set up for that right now. This will really allow people to come and be part of what we’re doing and be immersed in it.”