A manufacturing plant in Trenton that was supposed to create 500 jobs while building components for wind turbines may have to diversify to stay in business, says a Nova Scotia cabinet minister.
Percy Paris, the Minister of Economic and Rural Development, admitted the DSTN plant — a subsidiary of Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering — is struggling.
"The market, without a doubt, has gone soft," he told CBC News.
"I'm always concerned when it comes to jobs and things not reaching their potential sooner as opposed to later."
In 2010, the province of Nova Scotia sank $60 million into the plant as part of a $90-million deal to build the manufacturing plant for wind turbine components, including support towers and rotor blades.
The Nova Scotia government owns 49 per cent of the business and Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering owns 51 per cent.
Although government officials said up to 500 people could be employed by the plant in the first three years, there are currently fewer than 70 people employed at the plant.
DSTN has blamed "buy local" policies in Ontario for its lack of customers.
Paris told CBC News the plant is diversifying and may find a new purpose in shipbuilding.
"It would make good business sense since the parent company is one of the largest shipyards in the world," he said.
"I would think they, along with a lot of other global companies, would be looking at the Irving contract."
The Opposition said the government made a costly mistake, investing millions of dollars in the Trenton plant.
"This is the problem when you write big cheques to big corporations and you haven't done your homework in terms of the business plan or the business model," said Geoff MacLellan, the Liberal economic development critic.
"This is where we waste taxpayers' money. This day and age, with the state of our economy in Nova Scotia, we can't afford to waste $60 million."
The DSTN plant is located in the former TrentonWorks railcar manufacturing plant, which closed in 2006. The Korean company revived the operation in 2010 and is Daewoo Shipbuilding's first foray into manufacturing for the wind energy sector.