03/07/2014 02:12 EST | Updated 05/07/2014 05:59 EDT

Team of municipal and business leaders forming to respond to Michelin job losses

PICTOU, N.S. - A team of community leaders is being assembled in Pictou County to respond to the fallout of job cuts at the Michelin tire plant.

Sean Murray, the chief executive of Advocate Printing and Publishing, will co-ordinate the group of municipal and business leaders from the area.

Economic Development Minister Michel Samson said Friday he's looking for ideas from the group on ways to expand economic activity in northeastern Nova Scotia.

"They'll be able to talk about some of the challenges and more importantly some of the opportunities and solutions to address the loss of jobs in Pictou County," he said.

Samson and two other provincial cabinet ministers met with local municipal and business leaders Friday in Pictou to discuss Michelin's plans to cut the workforce at its plant in Granton by 500 people.

Samson said existing government programs along with a low-interest loan program set up by Michelin to help local entrepreneurs will be available to assist businesses get started in the county.

He said it's too early for the province to consider dedicating any additional funds to help the county with the job losses.

The workforce at the Michelin plant is being cut in half, so 500 workers will remain at the plant. Michelin is also spending $10 million to upgrade its rubber mixing operation in Granton.

Samson said there is no specific report expected yet and there is no time frame for the group's work.