What We Do

We are leaders and drivers of Annapolis Valley economic development opportunities. We will lead progress and retain and grow the economic base.

Our Mission

To be leaders and drivers of Annapolis Valley economic development opportunities that support the financial, social and individual well-being of the people, businesses and communities we serve.

We will do this by:

  • Retaining and growing the economic base.
  • Leading progress.

Vision

Leading and enabling regional economic growth and prosperity

As the grassroots economic development agency in the Annapolis Valley – with an ear to stakeholders, partners, and public policy – the Valley Regional Enterprise Network aims to:

1.  Lead and support local business needs in a manner that enhances our community’s economic sustainability, development and growth.

WE WILL ACHIEVE THIS:

  • by championing key regional economic development challenges and opportunities, and by engaging our Partners and Stakeholders collaboratively in taking action;
  • by providing the business development intelligence and resources to enable the financial viability of existing businesses as well as to attract future residents and investors to the Annapolis Valley, with the objective of growing the economic base and well-being of the region as a whole.

2. Be “Agents of Change” in achieving Annapolis Valley regional economic development objectives, by demonstrating progress in elevating the profile of regional economic gaps or opportunities and acting as drivers and influencers on a municipal and provincial level.

WE WILL ACHIEVE THIS:

  • through our research insights, as well as the reporting, communication and amplification of strategic opportunities and their implications to our core audiences;
  • by focusing on providing supports to individual businesses and communities, as well as solutions-based leadership at the industry and governmental levels.

STRATEGY

SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITIES

To be sustainable, our communities require retention and attraction strategies

Retaining and attracting residents and talent are essential steps in maintaining and increasing regional economic activity in the face of flat population growth and labour force shortages.

Labour force, feeder industry and residential attraction efforts will be directed to Atlantic Canadians, especially those who live and work in the HRM, followed by other Canadian provinces that deliver 30% of the migrant population. Recent trends show an increase in migrants from Ontario and the Western provinces as the economy slows there.

Anecdotal evidence, suggesting most new residents and entrepreneurs in the Annapolis Valley had visited previously as tourists, reinforces the importance of tourist visitation as a trigger for conversion.

RURAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP
Supporting small and medium businesses is the key to the Valley economy

The success of small and medium businesses and entrepreneurs supports local employment, residence, wealth retention and growth. Small business is the backbone of the Annapolis Valley economy, with 98% of businesses having fewer than 100 employees.

Services most often sought through the Valley REN are: start-up planning, business development, access to funding, creating local connections and identifying supply chain partners, as well as succession planning.

Additionally, ongoing sector engagement strategies are important for maintaining an overview of regional business gaps and opportunities and addressing common challenges, including: labour force, industry-relevant skills and training, energy management, broadband expansion, and innovation to improve productivity.

Encouraging municipalities, public services and people to “buy local” (and support import replacement programs) is also a key step in ensuring sustainable businesses and communities and should form part of the Valley REN agenda.

WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT
Economic development and growth requires a workforce strategy

The Valley REN is working with small, medium and large businesses on workforce development programs and retention and attraction initiatives.

Labour force shortages, as well as difficulty in recruitment and retention, must be addressed to maintain and grow the regional economy.

There are known labour force gaps in key economic sectors, including, manufacturing, transport and warehousing, agriculture and retail. Local efforts can be directed to increased labour force attachment and participation, especially among youth and seniors and groups that face workforce barriers, such as people with disabilities. As well, recruitment and settlement efforts can be directed to other Canadian regions and abroad (the U.S. and Eastern Europe).

While immigration is facilitated through the Atlantic Immigration Pilot, more can be done to address skills shortages in the Annapolis Valley and help settle new residents.

BUSINESS INNOVATION

Innovation is the key to specialization, competitiveness and growth

Longer term economic development opportunities should build on existing industry strengths and advantages. In our region, these opportunities include agriculture and AgriTech, manufacturing, and Green Energy/CleanTech.

A continued emphasis on innovation can leverage existing regional assets, such as Acadia University, NSCC (Nova Scotia Community College), Michelin’s “BIB Innovation”, the Kentville Research and Development Center, and provincial and federal programs.

ENABLING PROGRESS
An ambitious agenda for regional economic development must include leadership on economic challenges as well regional opportunities.

We take our public mandate seriously and strive to be an objective source of market intelligence, a respected opinion leader, an effective collaborator, an enabler among different stakeholders, and a “voice for change” and progress in our region.

Initiatives

2018-2019 Priorities

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Broadband Internet and Valley Manufacturing Taskforces 

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Cooperative Valley Brand and Marketing Program, including retention and settlement services
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Municipal Readiness and Modernization Workshops
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Rural Entrepreneurship, Youth and Community Enterprise Support 

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Strategic initiatives supporting Innovation and Economic Health

2017-2018 Achievements

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Succession Planning Pilot Program

Valley-based businesses took part in a Succession Planning Pilot Program offered in October and November 2017 through a partnership between the Valley REN, Acadia Entrepreneurship Centre and the Annapolis Valley Chamber of Commerce.

Upon completion of the program, 90% of participants noted they had acquired relevant skills to help with the survival, growth and/or succession of their business. All participants indicated they would recommend the program.

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SMART REGION PROJECT

On behalf of municipalities in our region, the Valley Regional Enterprise Network has partnered with the i-Valley Intelligent Community Association to pursue an international Smart Region designation for the Annapolis Valley.

The formal designation would be issued under the ISO 37120 standard managed by the World Council on City Data (ISO 37120 Sustainable Development of Communities: Indicators for City Services and Quality of Life).

As part of this project, the existing ISO 37120 standard – which includes 100 social, economic and service indicators across 17 themes – will be applied to rural communities.

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Business Networking and Charity Expo

A partnership between Nova Scotia Works, Community Inc., PeopleWorx, and Fusion Annapolis Valley, the Business Expo was held on January 19, 2018, at the Cornwallis Inn in Kentville. The event was developed to engage the business community and young professionals for networking, resource building and exposure to area talent, talent seekers and community resources available to assist both groups to achieve greater success. The event had approximately 250 attendees and 43 exhibitors attended.
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Kitpu (Eagle Watch Kick-OFF Party)

A partnership between the Sheffield Mills Community Association and Glooscap First Nation, the Kitpu Eagle Watch Kick-Off Party was held on January 26, 2018, at the Sheffield Mills Community Hall. The event was developed to provide an opportunity for youth from Glooscap First Nation and Kings County 4H to learn about First Nation conservation projects. The event was sold out, with 50 attendees.

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Michelin Workplace Skills Inventory

The Valley REN worked with Michelin to create new draft versions of their Workplace Skills Inventory (entrance tests), using Universal Design Learning to make them easier to understand. The draft versions were tested on more than 80 students at NSCC, AVRSB, PeopleWorx and VCLA.

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Upper Clements Parks Strategic Planning

The Valley REN continues to work with Upper Clements Parks as they prepare to undergo the following planning processes: strategic plan, business plan, capital plan and communications plan. The Valley REN is also assisting them with marketing and communications for the 2018 season.

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Collective Impact Project

Our Collective Impact Project supported four collaborative initiatives run by nine agencies.

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Connector Program

Received funding to create a rural Connector Program, designed to support residential retention by networking job seekers with community leaders, mentors and potential employers.
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Business Acceleration AND RETENTION (BAR)

With the goal adding value to the business community without sacrificing the capture of important local business statistics for the provincial government, the Valley REN developed a new business service program called “Business Acceleration and Retention” (BAR).

The Valley REN has shared this approach with other provincial RENs (Regional Enterprise Networks). This program focuses on ensuring value is being delivered to clients, helping to navigate public and private sector resources and capturing key business insights that lead to effective strategic and business planning for the REN and our partners.

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“Seed”: Hacking Entrepreneurship in the Annapolis Valley

A partnership between Refresh Annapolis Valley and the Acadia Entrepreneurship Centre.

A documentary screening and expo held on November 21, 2017, at the Al Whittle Theatre in Wolfville. The documentary was co-organized by 14 organizations with the aim of beating the startup ecosystem drum for Global Entrepreneurship Week. More than 80 people attended the screening and expo.

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Growing Entrepreneurs

The Annapolis Valley Chamber of Commerce’s Young Business Leaders partnered with Fusion Annapolis Valley to create a promotional video for an ongoing project that encourages young people (students and recent graduates) to stay in the area by showcasing unique opportunities in entrepreneurship and businesses in the Valley. The video is still in development.

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Wildcats Workshop

The Valley REN assisted the Valley Wildcats junior ice hockey organization by facilitating a stakeholder workshop to gather valuable feedback. More than 30 individuals attended (volunteers, coaches, players, board members). Based on the results of the session, the Valley REN presented a report that provided next steps for organizational and business planning.

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Kings Transit

The Valley REN is working with Kings Transit by facilitating a number of stakeholder sessions (employers, council, university/college students and the general public) to assist and help inform Kings Transit’s strategic planning process.
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Youth Entrepreneurship

The Valley REN supported youth entrepreneurship through being a part of the Junior Achievement Company Program. This program supported eight youth in the community to develop entrepreneurial skills and interest.
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Collaborative Medical Practice

The Valley REN began to work with a Collaborative Medical Practice to help them achieve operational efficiencies. We will continue to work with them in the 2018-2019 fiscal year.

35 Webster Street, Suite 102, Kentville, Nova Scotia B4N 1H4
Phone: 902 678 2200
E-mail: info@valleyren.ca

© 2018 – Valley Regional Enterprise Network. All rights reserved.
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Valley Regional Enterprise Network Helping You Grow In the Valley
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