A Shanghai-based company says it is planning to invest up to $3-billion in Nova Scotia in real estate, technology and tourism over the next decade, hoping to compete with Canada’s West Coast as a tourist centre for Chinese visitors.
There are some 100 million Chinese tourists now travelling the world
“There are some 100 million Chinese tourists now travelling the world and so this is an opportunity to start taking advantage of that cohort,” said Stephen Dempsey, Canadian advisor to Dongdu International Group (DDI).
He said he wanted Chinese visitors to discover that Canada has “another coast.”
The company announced plans Tuesday to build residences and resorts in rural areas, develop technology in the capital region and enhance tourism and opportunities. DDI expects to increase investment activities as of September.
Nearly 300 Chinese delegates and local entrepreneurs attended the announcement with Nova Scotia Business Inc. and Greater Halifax Partnership.
“The DDI organization have a vision of really becoming for Nova Scotia one of its largest employers,” said Paul Kent, the president and CEO of the Greater Halifax Partnership.
“It’s the first time that we’ve had very significant interest from a Chinese firm.”
Dongdu CEO Marvin H. L. Li said Nova Scotia’s scenery, educated population and transportation possibilities make the province a “compelling” location for DDI to establish its first Canadian location.
Last year, the company acquired and refurbished the historic Pacific Building in Halifax and now holds nine properties and a property management firm in Nova Scotia. And it hopes to develop a Chinese film industry in the province.
The 25-year-old company also has business interests in east China, southwest China, Hong Kong, California and Detroit. First a real estate developer, DDI diversified its business into multi-purpose real estate, high-technology, private members clubs and residences.
“We’re just getting started,” said Mr. Dempsey. “But it is symbolic of the potential that Nova Scotia and DDI see in each other.”
Investment in major projects is at an all-time high in Atlantic Canada with 439 projects and a record $122-billion in investment, according to a report released Monday by the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council. Nova Scotia experienced the largest increase in investment, which totals $55-billion.
Craig Wright, chief economist for Royal Bank of Canada, said housing affordability — and the resulting boost in demand — might be a part of Nova Scotia’s appeal.
Atlantic Canada remains one of the most affordable areas to purchase a home in the country, according to RBC’s housing affordability report released on Tuesday. He said consumers have done a lot of the heavy lifting to spur growth.
“Any acceleration in economic activity has to come from exports and investment,” Mr. Wright said. “If investment is picking up, it’s good news in the short run for the economy and in the long run for productivity.”
Mr. Kent of the Greater Halifax Partnership believes the Chinese company is an economic push the province needs.
“For Nova Scotia to catapult forward — and not just playing the incremental game — you really need an opportunity like this.”
*Article compliments of the Financial Post, Economy section*
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