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  • District of Saint Mary’s: Charting a course for export

District of Saint Mary’s: Charting a course for export

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Sometimes a story is as much about the journey as the destination. November 2018, in Shanghai, China, the municipality and its economic development arm, the Eastern Strait Regional Enterprise Network, signed a development Memorandum of Understanding with Zhongshou Taiyang Health Enhancement & Technology Group (Canada) Ltd.

“Working with NSBI has been great,” he adds. “They’re helpful and supportive. It’s been a good experience.”

The Canadians were part of an NSBI trade mission to China to explore opportunities for cooperation. This initiative with District of St. Mary’s is one example flowing from NSBI’s overall strategy on diversifying markets for both trade and investment.

NSBI worked over the past year to bring the players together. Prior to the signing, NSBI met with the company and local levels of government in Nansha District, a district of Guangzhou in Guangdong Province to assess interest and fit, and to start the relationship.

Grace Chum, CEO of the Chinese–Canadian company that signed the MOU with the Municipality says she hopes to see a bloodworm farm established here.

While many Nova Scotians may be familiar with bloodworms as bait for sport fishing, these small sea creatures can be valuable in other, sometimes unexpected, ways.

“Bloodworms can be used to replace blood and plasma in medical applications and as ingredients in health food supplements,” Chum says. “Nova Scotia’s clean natural environment makes this one of the best places to grow bloodworms.”

Most coastal land in China is polluted with heavy metals and not suitable for growing bloodworms for medical use, she says. “I talked to NSBI, and they said St. Mary’s might be a good location. So we entered into an MOU.”

“We’ve been talking to Grace for about a year,” says Marvin MacDonald, the Municipality’s chief administrative officer. “She seems personally committed to work with us to create jobs. I very much appreciate that, and we applaud her for that kind of commitment.”

Although various permits and other hurdles are still to be overcome, Chum says the company hopes to establish three businesses: a bloodworm farm, an operation to grow medicinal plants, and a health-enhancement centre. In turn, MacDonald also sees opportunities for knowledge transfer and education, not only in training for local people but in doing research with St. Francis Xavier and Dalhousie universities.

“Working with NSBI has been great,” he adds. “They’re helpful and supportive. It’s been a good experience.”