Cape Breton University has set up a new immigration task force to come up with a strategy to encourage more people to come to Cape Breton.

International students currently make up 30 per cent of the student body at CBU.

Keith Brown, vice president of international and aboriginal affairs, said it's a natural fit for the university to act on the recommendations of the One Nova Scotia Coalition.

The coalition called for an increase in immigration targets for Nova Scotia, following recommendations made in the Ivany report.

"That started the discussion in the province about a pilot and we had discussions over the last seven or eight months with the provincial department and decided that we could do it here for Cape Breton, really for an urban and a rural mix," said Brown.

"In theory, if our results are positive here, they should be positive for the whole province."

CBU is surveying more than 200 international students to find out why they chose to come to Cape Breton, and what barriers they faced.

Brown said the university will do the leg work, but it will be up to the province to run the programs.

"We're doing the research, we will be suggesting the strategy, we're not doing the immigration programs," he said.

The task force includes representatives from Cape Breton's municipal governments, the Nova Scotia Community College, first nations communities and business organizations.

'Dreaming big,' in rural Cape Breton

It also includes Cabot Links, the golf course in Inverness.

"We've been talking to some people around rural Cape Breton about dreaming big and what are the possibilities in rural Nova Scotia, rural Cape Breton," said Brown.

"We started to talk to them at Cabot Links about their views of Cape Breton before they came and as they've been here and as place to do business and really doing business in a small rural area that was in decline, so we invited them along to share their experience and observations."

There are no immigrants on the task force right now but Brown expects that will change once the sub-committees are set up.

"We have a fair amount of CBU grads, right now, who are permanent residents here, who've started their own businesses, who are working in other businesses so we've been talking to them for the past five or six months for some guidance," said Brown.

The task force will meet for the first time tomorrow in Baddeck.

Brown said the first order of business will be to make sure everyone understands that immigration is a federal responsibility, and there's an agreement with NS about what it can and can't do when it comes to immigration.

"It has to be clear to everybody what the regulations are, so what is possible and if there are any areas for suggested new programming or pilot programming for Cape Breton Island ... is there any possibility to do anything unique here," he said.

The project will wrap up in the spring with a summit to discuss the strategy and recommendation and to set immigration goals for Cape Breton.