Who We Are
Supporting the financial, social, and individual well-being of the people, businesses and communities we serve in the Annapolis Valley.
The Valley Regional Enterprise Network Is Here For You!
Helping the Valley grow and prosper.
With services designed to grow economic well-being and sustainability, the Valley Regional Enterprise Network is the only publicly funded organization dedicated to supporting the local economic development of seven municipalities and one First Nation in the Annapolis Valley region, with the potential of reaching two additional municipalities and two First Nations.
Valley REN At a Glance
- Incorporated in March 2014.
- Members are Glooscap First Nation, the Municipalities of the County of Kings and the District of West Hants, and the Towns of Berwick, Kentville, Middleton, Windsor and Wolfville.
- Funding is provided by these members and is matched by the Province of Nova Scotia.
- Governed by a Liaison and Oversight Committee and a Board of Directors from the private sector.
Our Unique Role and Competitive Advantage
The Valley REN’s competitive advantage is our ability to objectively address the economic and business development needs of the Region as a whole – without being confined to municipal boundaries – and, despite being publicly funded on an inter-municipal and provincial basis, to have the overview necessary to link both public and private sector organizations to achieve specific economic development objectives in the Annapolis Valley.
If public and private organizations work together, we will create a more competitive and attractive region from a business standpoint, evident in an increase and retention of diverse and sustainable business activity among small, medium and large businesses, as well as in attracting labour force and new residents.
- Provide centralized access to regional “Valley” business and economic data, including proprietary research to assess the needs and performance of local businesses.
- Recommend and drive Annapolis Valley regional economic development strategies and measurable growth, with a view to reflecting the needs and goals of private business, municipalities and the Province.
- Act as “Opportunity Connectors” across the private and public sectors, so that the dreams of businesses and individuals can become a reality.
- Serve as supporters and enablers of regional competitiveness and investment readiness, by communicating the Valley’s advantages and potential to local, provincial, national and international audiences.
- Make a meaningful and positive impact on the Valley’s regional economic development, by demonstrating impact, progress and measurable results from within the REN organization.
Chief Executive Officer
Bringing 30 years of international business consulting and marketing communications campaign experience across five continents, Deborah has built a broad skill set serving clients in a wide range of sectors, including: Agriculture, Automotive & Supply, Consumer Packaged Goods, Consumer Electronics, Financial Services, Healthcare, Industrial Manufacturing, Insurance, IT, Retail and Recreation.
Deborah established a strong career in the Toronto advertising agency scene before relocating to Europe, where she initially served as Managing Director of advertising agency EURO RSCG Budapest and was promoted to Sr. VP Regional Director for the HAVAS global communications group out of Paris. A relocation to Germany further to marriage saw her begin a 16-year senior strategic planning career with Ogilvy, the world’s leading brand-building agency, most recently serving as Global Planning Director out of their New York and Frankfurt offices.
Her first visit to Nova Scotia in 2014 fuelled her dream of relocating here and putting her business and marketing communications skills to use in promoting the province and building its economic future. Her past experience in helping Fortune 500 companies successfully expand globally into new markets is proving advantageous in helping to retain as well as attract new business and people to the Annapolis Valley.
“By simplifying our approach, by being strategic yet agile, and by enhancing collaboration across the public and private sectors, my ambition is to strengthen the Valley Regional Enterprise Network’s impact on the Annapolis Valley regional economy.”
Deborah currently resides in Kentville and has a vacation property on the South Shore.
Board of Directors
David Ritcey, Director
Wealth Management, Scotia Wealth Management
David Ritcey has been with ScotiaMcLeod in Kentville for the past 26 years and is a Portfolio Manager and Director, Wealth Management. He earned BSc and BBA degrees from Acadia University and is a Certified Financial Planner, Certified Investment Manager, Fellow of the Canadian Securities Institute, Certified Investment Management Analyst, and Trust and Estate Practitioner. Beyond his activity in a number of industry-related organizations, Dave has a wealth of experience serving on local boards and is currently serving on the boards of Scotia Solar Energy Inc., Annapolis Valley Chamber of Commerce and Kings Historical Society. Dave makes Kentville his home with his wife, Melissa.
Manager, Business Development NSCC
Gerard d’Entremont is the Community Innovation Lead with the Nova Scotia Community College Kingstec and Annapolis Valley campuses. With 21 years’ experience under his belt, he links client needs with customized training-based solutions, helping organizations increase organisational effectiveness. He holds a BA (Economics) and BEd from Mount Allison University and a MEd in Educational Administration from the University of New Brunswick. Gerard and his wife Becky live in Kentville along with their two daughters, Heather and Darcy.
Vice President, Business Development & General Manager, BioVectra
With over 25 years of commercialization experience in Diagnostics, Pharma and Biotech, Heather started at Diagnostic Chemicals Limited in 1990, moving to BioVectra in the year 2000. With increasing leadership roles in commercial functions, building a business development team and client base as a specialized global CDMO, Heather was appointed to Vice President, Business Development, for BioVectra in 2014 and is the General Manager at the Windsor site. She has a BBA from the University of Prince Edward Island as well as Continuing Education through McGill Mini-MBA program and York School of Business. Heather is passionate about partnering across biotech to bring life-changing therapy to patients.
Owner/Operator at Safeguard Property Management & Services
Paul is the President of Safeguard Property Management, serving all three counties of Hants, Kings and Annapolis. Originally from Paradise, Newfoundland, Paul was transferred to the Valley back in 1994 to work at Zellers in New Minas instantly falling in love with the area, never wanting to leave. Following Zellers, and before opening Safeguard in 2016, Paul worked at Staples, Home Depot and Workplace Essentials in the roles of Sales Management, Store Management and Operations.
Maritime Pressure Works, Combustion Section
Retiring as CEO of Maritime Pressure Works, a high-pressure boiler fabrication and repair company Rick formed in 1998, Rick turned his interests to several properties and business ventures in the Windsor area, becoming a major factor in the business sector of the town. In 2011 , he and his wife Debbie purchased the Spitfire Arms Ale House and in 2014 opened Fry Daddy’s Restaurant. A second Fry Daddy’s Restaurant opened in Fall 2018. It was Debbie’s retirement from the Dartmouth school system that brought the Dunhams to Windsor, initially to open the Clockmaker’s Inn. Rick completed his Bachelor of Science at St. Mary’s University.
Director, Business Development, ACENET
Michele Fash is the Director of Business Development with ACENET. She has been in the marketing field for 25 years, her career spanning the federal government and both large and small companies in the private sector. Her background includes industrial goods, consumer packaged goods, the grocery trade, private consulting, and now the technology sector. Michele graduated from Acadia University with a BBA, later completing an MBA at Dalhousie University. Having been away for a number of years, she has been back living in Wolfville with her husband and son since 2008.
For 30 years Barry Gander has helped jump-start the development of advanced technology organizations in Canada and abroad. As Executive Vice-President of Canada’s largest high-tech association, the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance, Barry has helped showcase the best of Canadian innovation to global markets. The i-CANADA program, which he co-founded, aims to create an “Intelligent Nation” by establishing a grassroots movement of communities that network digitally at ultra-fast speed. He has authored several best-selling books and created new social networks. Recently, he co-founded i-Valley, dedicated to the creation of a Smart Annapolis Valley.
Production Manager, Michelin North America (Canada) – Waterville facility
Bob has held many roles in his 37-year career with Michelin, which include, supply chain, IT, quality technician, HR Management, and Environment, Health and Safety. After working for several years as a purchasing agent in the Alberta oilfield industry, Bob returned to Nova Scotia to start his career with Michelin. He first worked in the Granton plant and then transferred to the Annapolis Valley for the start up of the Waterville facility. He is currently the Production Manager at the facility. Bob graduated from Acadia University with a BBA. Bob’s other community involvement has included chairing the Annapolis Valley Safe Communities Coalition and membership of the VBLI.
A partner at Canopy Creative, Jessy is a marketing and brand development consultant focusing on digital advertising and sales-funnel optimization. He graduated from Acadia University in 2017 with a double degree (BBA of International Business) with a partnered university, the ICN Business School in Nancy, France.
Retired Research Scientist, Applied Geomatics
Following a 30-plus-year career as an instructor and senior scientific researcher, Bob and his wife, Heather, made their permanent home in Paradise, Annapolis County. They maintain an organic orchard and produce sweet cider. Bob has a long-term interest in rural economic development. He was on the inaugural Valley REN board until 2015, when Heather accepted an assignment in Haida Gwaii. He is a Board member of the Ernest Buckler Literary Event Society. Bob graduated with a PhD from the University of Western Ontario. He writes a regular blog for GoGeomatics and maintains his own blog site at ErnestBlairExperiment.wordpress.com
Owner/Operator, Velocity One Natural Products Limited
Dan Mullen is a second-generation mink farmer, Past President of the Nova Scotia Mink Breeders Association, and served on various boards during the development of the Nova Scotia Fur Industry Act and the National Humane Care Code for mink. Dan received his Pastoral Theology Diploma from Summit Pacific College and spent four years in the British Colombia lumber sector.
After five years as a residential construction project manager in the Halifax Regional Municipality, Dan put down roots in Waterville with his wife, Karen, and three children, building a new farm, continuing the Mullen family mink tradition. Most recently, Dan and Karen started Grafton Greenhouse Greens, a local greenhouse business, focused on the year-round production of pesticide-free, hydroponic lettuce.
Scott Roberts, Chair
Executive Director, Communications and Public Relations, Acadia University
Scott Roberts, Executive Director Communications and Marketing, joined Acadia University in January 2004 to manage its communications activities related to strengthening the Acadia brand with incoming students, community stakeholders and news media. Scott has more than 25 years of combined experience in communications, government relations and public policy development across Canada as well as a BA (Economics) from the University of Waterloo. He and his wife, Janet, have two sons and live in Wolfville, where they are both active community volunteers.