Arlene Dickinson from CBC’s Dragon’s Den visited the Glenerin Inn & Spa to participate in a breakfast hosted by the Mississauga Board of Trade on Tuesday. Dickinson, who is one of the “dragons,” on the show, discussed issues surrounding Canada’s National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy.

The Government of Canada’s National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy has three components, the most costly being the $35 billion large ship construction project for the Royal Canadian Navy. The other two components are the building of smaller ships and the annual repair and maintenance on existing ships. Dickinson encouraged guests at the breakfast event to support the NSPS, because it could provide as many as 1,600 new jobs around Ontario. Though Vancouver and Halifax are generally thought of as the country’s major ship-building cities, Dickinson stressed that Ontario would also benefit greatly, and named several Mississauga-based companies already involved in the project.

“The jobs that will be created will come when our manufacturing base needs a shot in the arm,” said Dickinson. “We need to get this message to our federal representatives that these Ontario jobs are important and we need them now.”

“The NSPS is an opportunity for our local business community to partake in the procurement process, which will be a notable benefit to small- and medium-sized enterprises,” said MBOT President and CEO Sheldon Leiba, pointing out that Mississauga’s focus on technology would be advantageous to the project.

Dickinson spoke to a crowd of 80 local entrepreneurs. As well as being a judge on the award-winning CBC show, she is a spokesperson and honorary captain for the Royal Canadian Navy. During Tuesday’s breakfast, she explained the reasoning behind the federal government’s strategy, introduced in 2010, which includes rebuilding 29 ships in the Canadian fleet. She also spoke of the Royal Canadian Navy’s work, and how it directly and indirectly benefits a wide array of Canadians.

Dickinson provided a few specific examples. The Canadian Navy works worldwide, and one of their many roles involves maintaining Canada’s sovereignty in the Arctic. They also work to stop drug shipments in Central America and prevent them from heading north.

“In the last year we have stopped 5,000 kilos of cocaine from reaching the shores of North America, from reaching the schools in our neighborhoods,” Dickinson explained.

The event was put on by the Mississauga Board of Trade, and the morning included a networking component prior to Dickinson’s address. Serving as a chamber of commerce for Mississauga, the MBOT was formed in 1976 to provide representation for local businesses at various levels of government and to create a healthy business community. They offer various seminars and networking events throughout the year.

Dickinson’s talk proved fruitful for many of the breakfast’s business-minded audience members. Dickinson is a very successful entrepreneur in her own right, serving as CEO of Venture Communications. Offering some advice to the eager crowd, she stressed the importance of three aspects in being a successful entrepreneur: investing in your own work, investing in others when you’re able to, and having a clear strategy laid out for yourself.

Photos by Mike Douglas.