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Organization encourages businesses to mentor young people

Ron Hanlon left Nova Scotia and had a successful career in the business sector holding key positions in large companies in the U.S. and Canada.

Ron Hanlon speaks to local business and community leaders during an event hosted at the Pictou County Wellness Centre as part of Small Business Week. ADAM MACINNIS – THE NEWS

While he returned here to retire and finds himself now working as president and CEO of Halifax Partnership, he said he regrets the time he spent away and is now trying to create an environment that will encourage young people to stay in Halifax and Nova Scotia in general.

He spoke about that during a presentation offered at the Pictou County Wellness Centre on Tuesday. The presentation was put on by the Pictou County Chamber of Commerce, the Town of New Glasgow and the Municipality of the County of Pictou.

Annually about 1,300 people between the ages of 20 and 29 leave the province, Hanlon said.

“It’s a big problem economically,” Hanlon said explaining that with a large percentage of the population reaching retirement age, there’s a need to fill the void that’s coming in the work force.

While not everyone should stay in the province, he said he’d like to create an environment where it’s possible for them to stay if they want to.

That’s why with the Halifax Partnership, an economic development organization, they’ve put a strong focus on encouraging businesses to hire and mentor young people.

Founded in 1996, the Halifax Partnership brings together people from both the public and private sector to try to market Halifax and grow the economy.

One of their programs is called a connector program which matches new residents, local and international graduates in Halifax with local employers, civil servants and community leaders based on industry experience, professional backgrounds, or the connectee's interest in a specific organization.

Hanlon said the relationship between new graduates in a business can be mutually beneficial.

“You’ll be amazed at what a young person can bring to a business,” he said. “It isn’t just a philanthropic thing to a hire a young person.”

He said they can often offer fresh ideas and are typically more aware of the latest technology that could be beneficial to a company.

Hanlon also believes the province needs to do more to simplify the immigration process to help increase the population. He said he’s found it to be a very complicated.

“It needs to be streamlined,” he said.

Another topic that Hanlon touched on was the need for Atlantic Canada to work together to market itself. While within the region we like to divide ourselves up based on community and province, outside the region, people and businesses don’t look at it the same.

While the Halifax Partnership does strive to market and promote Halifax he said it’s important to keep a regional perspective.

“Good things happening here in Pictou County will benefit Halifax and big things happening in Halifax will benefit here,” he said.

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