It was a celebratory affair.
The trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) was taken over Monday evening by Fortis staff and investors.
There were crab cakes and Screech served up — in mixed drinks called “The Fortis” — as music from Newfoundland and Labrador, from Great Big Sea, Shanneyganock and The Once, to name a few, rolled over the guests.
They walked the worn wood of the trading floor, between work stations, talking about one of the most successful businesses to ever come out of the province.
Four of the attendees were frontline workers who will be on the podium as the company rings the bell to officially open the stock exchange Tuesday morning.
They were selected by chance draw from more than 2,000 employees who were hoping to make the trip and take it all in.
One of the winners was Liza Abbott, who works with FortisAlberta out of Calgary.
She said she had to apply after hearing about the internal competition.
“I am originally from Newfoundland, so this is something that’s pretty much true to my heart. I worked for Newfoundland Power. I’m from Newfoundland, my family’s from Newfoundland, I worked with a lot of great people at Newfoundland Power and then I got a chance to move to Alberta and again work for another Fortis company and it’s a big deal for me,” she said.
Abbott is originally from Musgrave Harbour.
“I’m so proud,” she said, referring to the flags and banners hanging outside the exchange, being captured in thousands of tourist snapshots, as well as by Fortis executives.
Abbott said she feels the fact Fortis has representatives from throughout its business on hand for the celebrations in New York this week says a lot about the company.
The evening included a speech from Fortis president and CEO Barry Perry, as well as Natural Resources Minister Siobhan Coady, who said she wanted to recognize the significant achievement of Fortis’s U.S. expansion and listing on the NYSE.
Back home, protests have continued against Crown corporation Nalcor Energy’s Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project and, speaking with reporters, Coady said she has been following events closely and has been in touch with staff back home since arriving in New York on Sunday.
“Unfortunately, we’re at a point where Muskrat Falls, in order to protect the asset that we have and to protect what we’re doing, we will have in raising the water (in the reservoir) to 25 metres at 25 per cent (of area),” she said, standing behind information released by Nalcor Energy earlier in the day.
“But we have been speaking to (the aboriginal governments) on what we can do with the rest as we move forward. And that’s what (Environment) Minister (Perry) Trimper will be speaking to them about tomorrow.”
Meanwhile, Coady said it was important to also recognize Fortis’s “momentous occasion,” given the number of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who have helped make the company what it is today.
About 130 companies from Canada are listed on the NYSE. Fortis will be the largest new listing this year in terms of market capitalization, or estimated value of the company.