Immigrants can help Nova Scotia businesses remain competitive. This was the message Immigration Minister Carolyn Bolivar-Getson delivered recently to Pictou County business leaders. The leaders gathered in Stellarton on Tuesday, Feb. 6, to hear about the benefits of immigration and to engage in a dialogue about potential barriers to hiring immigrants and to identify ways for overcoming these barriers. “Nova Scotia’s growing economy requires that we have a more diverse workforce,” said Ms. Bolivar-Getson. “Businesses that are looking to expand into worldwide markets will also benefit from having employees who have lived and worked in those places.” “Businesses are losing access to qualified workers as more and more residents head out west with their families,” said Jim MacConnell, chair of the Stellarton session. “Immigration is one means of addressing the shortfall.” Immigration can hold many benefits for companies. Newcomers provide exposure to other cultures and opportunities to gain access to international markets and learn other ways of doing business and business thinking. Most importantly, immigrants can also address a business’s need for skilled workers. “Since 2003, we have seen a 75 per cent increase in the number of immigrants moving to Nova Scotia,” said Ms. Bolivar-Getson. “While attracting more newcomers remains a priority, we must be able to keep them here. The primary reason why immigrants leave Nova Scotia is to find meaningful work.” The Stellarton forum was one of eight the immigration minister will host across the province in February.