Valley Regional Enterprise Network is ready to roll

Ashley Thompson
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The Annapolis Valley is home to the province’s first regional enterprise network (REN).

Representatives of nine municipal units and the Glooscap First Nation visited Windsor on March 20 to partake in the signing of an agreement that marks the establishment of the Valley Regional Enterprise Network.

Windsor Mayor Paul Beazley welcomed a sizeable crowd at 69 Cedar Centre, a multi-purpose facility dedicated to health, art and community, to the Little Town of Big Firsts to celebrate another big first for Nova Scotia.

“This is an exciting day for all of those who have worked so hard to make this happen and it’s an exciting day for economic development in the Valley region.”

Mark Phillips, CAO for the Town of Kentville and chairperson of an oversight committee focusing on the development of the REN, anticipates that staff will be hired for the REN in three to four months.

It is up to the newly appointed board to determine how many employees will be required and where staff will be based.

The seven-person board, comprised of business-minded professionals from Hants West to Annapolis County, consists of Sir Graham Day, Susan Hayes, Joseph Lord, Robert Maher, Peter Muttart, Jason Peters and Perry Wallace.

Phillips predicted that the REN will require at least four employees, including an executive director, economic development officers and support staff.

He noted that selecting the best location for the employees will be a challenge, and the board must decide if home-based or satellite offices will work best.

“Those are things that they’re going to have to be conscious of to make sure that the resources of the REN are spread out and beneficial to all partners.”

The municipal units funding the Annapolis Valley’s REN were each asked to contribute the same amount of funding they used to commit to regional development authorities (RDAs).

“It’s proportionate based on size and scale and ability to pay,” said Phillips.

Phillips says the provincial government was prepared to match up to $350,000 in municipal funding collected for the REN.

The participating municipalities came up with a combined contribution of $284,683 for the REN, making the total budget $569,366 with matched funding from the Department of Economic and Rural Development.

The County of Kings is contributing $88,950 and the District of West Hants is offering $52,873. For the towns, Wolfville and Kentville are in for $34,572 each, Windsor is committing $19,275, Berwick is good for $17,790, Middleton is kicking in $14,722, and Bridgetown and Hantsport will join the Glooscap First Nation in contributing about $7,000.

The Town of Annapolis Royal and County of Annapolis have not agreed to join the REN.

Elder Shirley Clarke, a former chief and councillor at the Bishopville-based Glooscap First Nation, performed a smudging ceremony prior to the signing of the REN agreement. The ritual is largely meant to cleanse a subject and area of bad spirits and ill intentions.

“In collaborating with one another, you have to have good intentions,” said Clarke, before smudging the municipal leaders signing the REN agreement.

Chief Sidney Peters indicated that the formation of the REN is a sign that the Glooscap First Nation will be embracing more opportunities for inter-municipal partnerships in the future.

“Glooscap First Nation is proud to be the first Mi’ kmaw community in Nova Scotia to be a signatory under the Regional Enterprise Network process,” said Peters, in a press release announcing the signing of the REN agreement.

“As a small First Nation community, we can no longer work within a silo, we must partner with surrounding municipalities, Nova Scotia and Canada.”

 

 

Organizations: REN, Glooscap First Nation, Valley Regional Enterprise Network Department of Economic and Rural Development District of West Hants Annapolis Royal

Geographic location: Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia, Windsor Kentville Annapolis County Little Town Hants West Kings Canada Hants County Town of Windsor West Hants

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  • joe ross
    March 26, 2014 - 07:05

    Oh lord ,,,another govt/taxpayer funded group of consultants.....and staff.