Sending work off the island no surprise

Letter to the editor from Weldon Bona
Cape Breton Post
Monday, May 24, 2004

The use of Halifax companies for the design and printing of brochures and postcards to promote the tar ponds cleanup is nothing new.

Recently, my company, Absolute Design, was asked by Environment Canada to produce brochures to promote the cleanup to politicians and others. After we started the initial design, Environment Canada contracted a Halifax company to do the work.

As for the recent postcards that clogged our mailboxes, there was no tendering process inviting Cape Breton design companies to quote. The printing requirement -- overnight turnover -- made it impossible for local printers to do the work.

Local printers were unable to meet an unreasonable, last-minute deadline, and so lost the job to Halifax.

In my 20 years of business, I have seen this happen many times. Recently, the Cape Breton Growth Fund, established with a mandate to invest in the Cape Breton economy, hired a Halifax company to advertise Cape Breton business success stories and to design its annual report. These documents are printed off-island too. I could give many more examples.

So why aren't Cape Bretoners getting this work? Icon Communications, Vibe Marketing, Art Plus Communications, City Printers and Absolute Design are all well known for their creativity, professionalism and ability to get a job done on time and in budget. These Cape Breton companies have won many awards for their work, have contributed to the success of hundreds of clients, and can produce anything equal to that produced in Halifax.

No one is successful in winning every tendered project. We are not expecting special treatment. We have all made a commitment to live and work in Cape Breton and to contribute to our communities.

To see work that could and should be produced locally going off-island is disheartening. It has come to the point that many companies, after seeing contracts go off-island again and again, refuse to bid, knowing full well that it is an exercise in futility.

The public servants making spending decisions on projects intended to serve business and individuals in Cape Breton should be held accountable by their boards of directors and their responsible ministers.

Weldon Bona
Castle Bay