Five questions for Laurel Broten, Invest in Canada’s new Chief Executive Officer

Laurel Broten

Laurel Broten became Invest in Canada’s chief executive officer on October 3, 2022. She is an award-winning CEO, a former cabinet minister, a lawyer, a legislator, an advocate and a community builder. Most recently, Ms. Broten served as president and CEO of investment promotion agency Nova Scotia Business Inc. from 2015 to 2022. 

You have worked throughout Canada in positions that have encompassed law, politics and economic development. What excites you most about being Invest in Canada’s new chief executive officer? 

I am absolutely thrilled to be joining Invest in Canada as this important organization’s new CEO. I am very proud to be helping build a more prosperous economy for Canada and Canadians. Everything – good jobs, vibrant communities, educational opportunities, vital healthcare – is rooted in a strong economy. Companies that expand to Canada contribute to an ever-stronger economy and healthier communities that improve the lives of Canadians throughout the entire country. 

What specific experiences do you feel have best prepared you for CEO of Canada’s federal investment promotion and attraction agency? 

I have been privileged to serve in leadership roles in law, government, public policy, economic development as well as the social service sector, among others. This varied work experience has given me great perspective on all that Canada has to offer global investors. 

I have seen firsthand how foreign direct investment (FDI) builds strong and vibrant communities across Canada. 

As leader of a provincial trade development and investment attraction agency I have lived and breathed the importance of FDI and economic development to Canada.  

I feel that I bring a pan-Canadian perspective, as I have lived in Saskatchewan, Alberta, Quebec, Ontario, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. I have worked across the country, in urban centres as well as in rural communities. My experience has given me a deep understanding of our country, and also a recognition of the impact and value that FDI and economic development can bring to communities, especially outside the major urban centres. 

Every country in the world is seeking foreign direct investment (FDI). How important is FDI to Canada? 

FDI is critically important. Good, well-paying jobs and the economic prosperity of Canadian communities both large and small depends on it.  

Businesses that invest in Canada bring innovation and they draw on the knowledge that is already here. Global businesses contribute additional strength and diversity that foster further economic development in Canada. 

In 2021 alone, FDI in Canada resulted in 736 projects, averaging $65.5 million and creating over 34,000 projected jobs. That’s a lot of economic activity created in one year alone from global business expansion in Canada. 

Numbers show only part of the picture. Seeing the investments – the stories, the people – behind all those projects brings more perspective. It’s everything from multiple new mines in Canada’s northern communities that are sourcing critical minerals to huge new electric vehicle battery manufacturing facilities being built in communities both large and small. It’s investments in ocean tech in Atlantic Canada, plant proteins in the Prairies, carbon capture projects in Alberta, digital entertainment investments in Quebec and British Columbia. And those are just some examples. FDI is everywhere in Canada. 

You have shown a passion for Canada, for what it is and can be. What do you see as Canada’s main advantages for global companies seeking growth? 

Canada has an excellent investment-value proposition to attract the world’s leading companies in a range of industries.  

Our main advantages invariably include Canada’s stability, which minimizes business risk. Plus, there’s the rich talent that abounds in Canada’s skilled workforce. We have unmatched access to world markets through our free trade agreements. And our ecosystems drive innovation. 

But no matter what specific advantages global companies are interested in, I am looking forward to working with partners across the country in helping find and attract the best companies for Canada worldwide and continuing to build our economy. 

More and more global companies want what Canada is committed to achieving: economic sustainability through an emphasis on environmental, social and governance (ESG) investment criteria. Leadership in ESG will become even more important to Canada – and the world – in the coming years. 

The world continues to be in uncertain times. Do you have a vision for FDI attraction in Canada?   

My current plan is to keep building on the excellent FDI results Canada is seeing. 

As Invest in Canada’s new CEO, I will be thinking about how we position Canada on the world stage and how to propel our economic growth, prioritize green initiatives, accelerate innovation and ultimately support our growing communities. This thinking recognizes the critical issues that are key drivers in today’s investment decisions, as we continue to shape and strengthen the economy of tomorrow.   

I am excited about working with the team at Invest in Canada and with our many partners throughout Canada and abroad who will continue to help make jobs, growth and prosperity happen. In short, my vision is to ensure that Invest in Canada keeps on finding the best to invest!