There is a shared optimism for the economic strength of the Annapolis Valley.
The Valley Regional Enterprise Network (Valley REN) held its second Annual General Meeting at the historic King’s-Edgehill school library in Windsor on June 19.
More than 60 people attended, representing our government partners, local businesses, and service agencies and associations that support businesses in our area.
Thank you for joining us and demonstrating your commitment to a collaborative, regional approach to economic development.
The Valley REN had lots of results to share, including the launch of our website, our Sector Table Workshop and follow up-events, a six-month “Live, Work, Grow” campaign (in partnership with the Valley Business Leaders’ Initiative), and our expanded BusinessNow program. You can read our Annual Report here.
We also took the opportunity to launch an interactive map of the region’s commercial and industrial real estate and other assets. This tool is designed to meet the needs of business site selectors. It is the first step in our “Invest in Annapolis Valley” campaign, with more to follow in 2017-18.
As well as learning about the highlights of Valley REN activities over the past year, our guests heard from Keith Irving, MLA for Kings South; Anna Allen, Mayor of the Town of Windsor and Chair of the Liaison and Oversight Committee; Scott Roberts, Chair of the Valley REN Board; and Ron L’Esperance, our guest speaker and president of Group ATN Consulting, which conducted the Valley REN 2017 Business Survey.
Keith Irving identified many signs of economic growth in the Annapolis Valley, including the opening of a new Kent store in New Minas, construction of Lightfoot & Wolfville Vineyards’ new retail space and a new building for Stirling Farm Market, work on the Granite Drive interchange, building upgrades at Acadia University, and the grand opening of Horton Ridge Malt & Grain Company.
Ron L’Esperance highlighted key points in our recent Valley REN business survey and in the regional business climate:
- local businesses value the services provided by their municipalities and appreciate their “can-do” attitude
- there is a broad diversity of predominantly small businesses in the Valley
- the regional economy is supported by strong post-secondary education infrastructure and research activity
- the Valley is one of the regions outside of Halifax with a steady or growing population
Scott Roberts spoke about the Valley REN’s vision of “communities working together to create a prosperous region” and its strategic goals, which are to promote and grow strong, local businesses; attract investment; and build on our region’s assets and workforce advantages.
Mayor Anna Allen explained the role of the Liaison and Oversight Committee and said she was looking forward to bringing municipalities together, with the Valley REN Board, to review and refine our collective economic goals for the region.
Two themes emerged from the meeting, which are central to the work of the REN and its First Nation, provincial and municipal partners.
- There is a shared optimism for the economic strength of the Annapolis Valley.
- We need to continue to collaborate to achieve our vision of economic prosperity.
Kelly Ells has been the CEO since November 24, 2014. Kelly graduated from Dalhousie University with a B.Sc. in Chemistry and from Saint Mary’s University with a Bachelor of Education and an MBA. Kelly came to the REN with senior sales, marketing and management experience with key businesses in the Annapolis Valley: Nova Agri Inc., ACA Co-operative, and BioMedica Diagnostics Inc. Kelly’s roots and experience are in the Valley region and she lives in Wolfville.