Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency
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Steve Elder, Director, Nova Scotia Operations, L-3 Communications Systems


Mr. Elder is standing up, talking to the camera.

My name is Steve Elder.  I’m the Director of Nova Scotia Operations for L3 Communications, an electronics plant, and a big aerospace and defense company in Canada that’s headquartered out of the United States. There is six operating divisions in Canada, and I’m involved with the one on the East coast, in Halifax, Nova Scotia. 

In my part-time work, I do work with ADIANS as the current President and Chairman of the Board of ADIANS, which is the Aerospace and Defense Industry Association of Nova Scotia. And in that context, we’ve come to know and understand and get involved with the AAADA, the Atlantic Aerospace Alliance. 

The AAADA is a collection of interested parties, government partners and industry partners that come from across the four provinces. The main value that I think the member companies – the constituents that make up AAADA – see is that by collecting together our initiatives, we can become stronger. 

For example, if we’re talking to a large OEM about doing business in the region, and my company L3 couldn’t do it alone and IMP Aerospace couldn’t do it alone, then we may need a partner out of Prince Edward Island or in Newfoundland that we can come together and have a platform to represent that high degree of collaboration to that OEM, and then maybe make that offering stronger. That’s one aspect.

The second aspect would be when we are in learning exercises… When we want to learn about ITAR regulations or learn about Industry Canada changes, we could collectively do a better job of presenting that information rather than doing it on a province by province basis.

So there’s a synergy, and a collaboration mechanism that’s developing, that’s going to pay big dividends and be less expensive to accomplish per user. I think it’s got a number of advantages that could be brought to bear. 

I’ve seen a lot of rapid growth of the initiatives. I’ve seen a heightened degree of support from ACOA for really igniting and accelerating aerospace initiatives in the region.

My company L3 has certainly enjoying some of that. We’re a large aerospace company already, so the kind of support that we try to get from ACOA is maybe a little different than an SME.

But I’ve seen certainly a heightened awareness. I’ve seen more of an advocacy and a policy statement position in helping Atlantic Canadian companies work through Industry Canada regulations, PWGSC regulations, work better with DND, and work better with each other. 

My view of the main support mechanism is that it has really provided a lot of catalyst for growth and it has provided opportunities. It has illuminated opportunities and helped nurture them along the way, right up to the point of signing larger contracts. 

I’ve seen a lot of acceleration of that in the four years that I’ve been involved.

Added: July 19, 2010