Nfld. & Labrador

Labrador West plays host to Newfoundland business owners

Recent dips in the iron ore market did not stop the business community in western Labrador from flaunting its potential during a three-day conference last week.
Representatives from 25 companies in Newfoundland tour Labrador West for business opportunities. (CBC)

Recent dips in the iron ore market did not stop the business community in western Labrador from flaunting its potential during a three-day conference last week. 

A couple of dozen companies toured potential business opportunities in Wabush and Labrador City, with the hope of attracting new business to the region.

It was part of the East Meets West conference organized by the St. John's Board of Trade. 

First Vice-Chair Des Whelan said he wants to connect companies on the island to Labrador.

Des Whelan with St. John's Board of Trade visited Labrador West on Thursday, as part of the East Meets West conference. (CBC)

"We are hearing that this area is open for business," Whelan said. "We're hearing that from local municipalities as well as we are from the local businesses that we're meeting."

Even though the local economy is down — with one mine idled and another battling a slumping iron ore market — Whelan said he still sees potential. 

"We know that there is a cycle to it and that, you know, there is an ebb and flow based on the resource economy, but we are very optimistic about this region."

The conference also targeted gaps in the local market.

A new report prepared for the conference showed a need for industrial and commercial businesses in the area. That came as no surprise to Labrador West Chamber of Commerce President Nancy Blundon.

"There are some niches that are missing in Labrador West, and things that the mine needs and the local economy needs," Blundon said. 

The report also included lists of opportunities for doctors, tailors, sporting good stores and accounting firms to set up shop.

Whelan said the companies visiting the region may be able to fill those voids, as they come from the health care, retail and industrial sectors.