The federal government’s new Atlantic Investment Partnership is also opportunity knocking on the door to our region’s future.This initiative is a signal that Ottawa is now properly focusing its investments so that Atlantic Canada and our people can succeed in the new information economy. It is encouraging to see that the areas targeted for an investment – innovation, R&D, training and regional development funding – are consistent with the needs that have been identified throughout the region’s business community. The world’s economy is undergoing changes that are more fundamental and dramatic than at any other time in history. Now it is knowledge, not proximity to market which determines who succeeds and who fails. In an Internet economy, speed is of the essence. So we have to get out of the blocks early and take the lead. By any measure, we have the potential economic base. In this region we possess natural resources beyond the scope of many countries with much larger populations. We understand the importance of trade in creating wealth. And the current generation of our youth is demonstrating some very positive new attitudes. But we do have some serious gaps, which urgently need to be addressed. In its 1999 report, IT and the Knowledge Economy in Atlantic Canada, the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council stated that "…regardless of how the data is analyzed, it is unambiguously clear that Atlantic Canada’s manufacturing industries are not adopting technology as quickly as the rest of Canada." This cannot continue and we are seeing signs of change. Looking throughout the region we see leading businesses like Clearwater Fine Foods using e-commerce to market its products worldwide, and Sobey’s using advanced data technologies to manage its inventory, shipping and general business operations. Similarly, the use of technology in our offshore oil and gas and marine industries is creating new knowledge and skills transfer – for example, the creation of a special high speed data network connecting the Terra Nova Alliance’s offshore site with that company’s land-based offices. By adopting these new technologies, incorporating them directly into their business processes, our resource sector can add value to their operations, adding new skills and new ideas that can themselves be exported, creating new wealth. Just as importantly, we see examples of innovation in delivery of health services through telemedicine in each of our provinces, a growing focus on technology education and distance education programs by our educational institutions, and even our artists are experimenting with the use of technology to create, and sell, their products. This is why Aliant endorses the decision to earmark $300 million for an Atlantic Innovation Fund to foster innovation and technology. This investment is timely and helpful in encouraging the adoption of new technologies by our small and medium businesses, our extensive resource sector, and for the effective delivery of public services. Aliant, as the region’s largest telecommunications and IT employer, supports this strategic investment in a sector that has already demonstrated its success, and which holds enormous potential for growth in our region. Economic development does not need to be a choice between limited options. It’s not a matter of rejecting the things of yesterday to embrace the things of tomorrow. On the contrary, tomorrow’s economic model is a combination of a resource-based model and a new model of information value. The information-based economy makes it possible to create many more ways of generating revenue. It’s an economy of innovation, and Atlantic Canadians, better than anyone else, understand the need to adapt and innovate. We have been doing it for centuries. At Aliant, we firmly believe in innovation and we are investing heavily to develop applications for innovative new technologies, products and services that will not only benefit Atlantic Canadians, but can be exported to customers around the world. Stephen Wetmore is president and CEO of Aliant Inc, a BCE Inc subsidiary and holding company for incumbent telcos in Atlantic Canada.