Redefining the meaning of stakeholder to grow business through Port Saint John

On the Port’s west side, just as the mainland curves to face the Bay, Piers 13 and 14 stand desolate in the water. Uneven concrete and steel, marked by No Entry signs, the abandoned piers represent a time of decline – for the Port and the city.

Just metres away, the Port has a different story to tell.

In 2011, Montreal-based company American Iron and Metal chose to expand their Port operations, investing $30-million dollars into the project and signing a 40-year lease.

Further down Protection Street, Rodney Terminal is 37.5 acres of activity. In 2013, the Port made massive strides in container traffic, due in large part to attracting Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), the second-largest shipping line in the world. Between MSC and Tropical Shipping, whose Canadian headquarters are at the Port, container tonnage was up by 59 per cent at the close of 2013.

The Port’s recent shift in business comes after a shift in how business is done.

“From a cargo development perspective, we’ve looked at different entities in the region who play a role in economic development and exporting, working with them to build relationships to foster growth at the Port,” Shannon Blanchard, Port Saint John’s manager of cargo development, says.

“Working together toward the same goal is far more important than working toward it separately.”

As the Port was looking to forge partnerships, so was the Department of Economic Development and InvestNB. The two entities, along with other New Brunswick transportation assets jointly strategize to grow exports through the province.

Blanchard says they are in the process of working with officers in Economic Development and InvestNB to provide details on what the Port has to offer in terms of land development and services. That way, if they encounter a business opportunity requiring a marine component, they connect them to the Port.

Though further north, Saint John and New York are equidistant to southern ports in markets like Brazil. Saint John’s uncongested, deep water port, along with ample road and rail options, is ideally positioned for inbound cargo. That’s why the Port is also working closely with the federal Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD).

They help identify companies looking to export to Canada and work with trade commissioners to identify new opportunities for development. They are instrumental in the success we’ve seen in inbound and outbound missions over the past three years.

During Port Days in June, a pilot project funded by the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency will see representatives from ten Latin American companies in Saint John to meet with New Brunswick shippers and receivers. Port representatives sit on the working committee for the project, along with the province of New Brunswick.

The manager of cargo development has also been active in the freight forwarding community across Canada, attending and sponsoring events across the Maritimes and Ontario.

“It’s important for us to spread awareness about Port Saint John and our capabilities to this sector of the transportation industry. If there is ever a need to move product through the east coast, Saint John has the connections they require,” she says.

Blanchard says working with these agencies has broadened the definition of a stakeholder.

The Port’s ongoing revitalization of their stakeholder outreach approach incorporates working with complementary businesses to drive traffic to and through Port Saint John.

Incorporating an inclusion model in 2012 has also given Port stakeholders in the region a louder voice. Stakeholders are consulted on a regular basis and routinely collaborate on business development.

“The model gives our stakeholders a sense of ownership. They are more involved in what we do and offer insight as we move forward in a strategic direction that will benefit New Brunswick businesses and our community as a whole,” Blanchard says.

Going forward, Blanchard said the Port is eager to continue growing container volumes. They are also looking to grow dockside facilities in terms of manufacturing, warehousing and the distribution of goods.