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 six municipalities and one First Nation in the Annapolis Valley region, with the potential of reaching three additional municipalities and two First Nations.

Valley REN At a Glance

  • Incorporated in March 2014.
  • Members are Glooscap First Nation, the Municipality of the County of Kings, West Hants Regional Municipality, and the Towns of Berwick, Kentville and Middleton
  • 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.

Our Mandate

  • 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.

Our Team

Jennifer Tufts, CEO

Richelle Brown Redden, EDO – Strategic Initiatives

Burnell Lyons, BusinessNOW Officer

Taylor de Vries, Connector Program Coordinator

Chrystal Remme, Communications & Executive Support



Board of Directors

Paul Dixon

Paul Dixon


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.

Mike Bannister

Mike Bannister

Vice Chair

President & CEO of Atlantic Poultry Incorporated

Before his role with API, Mike has been leading food and beverage organizations in the Consumer Packaged Goods industry across Canada (Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto) and in the US (San Francisco, Atlanta, Austin TX). Originally from Shediac, New Brunswick, he is thrilled to be back in the Maritimes.

Mike has an extensive background in the sales and marketing fields, having managed some of the country’s most prominent brands. His main areas of focus are leadership and innovation.

Mike holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the Universite de Moncton, has served and led several boards (not-for-profit and for-profit) and is most passionate about causes around homelessness, food insecurity and equality.

Gerard d’Entremont

Community Innovation Lead, NSCC (Nova Scotia Community College) Annapolis Valley Region

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 organizational 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.

Stephen Shaw
Executive Director, CBDC Hants-Kings

With an MBA (Finance) from Saint Mary’s University and more than 25 years of banking and small business experience, Stephen is a customer-focused leader with a passion for community.

Stephen strives to ensure that all entrepreneurs receive the advice, training and financing they need to be successful and a productive part of our local economy. 

Ashley Crocker

Director of Finance, Glooscap First Nation & Glooscap Ventures

Ashley, a CPA (CGA) with a BBA from Acadia University and a MBA from Saint Mary’s University, has over ten years of experience providing strategic accounting advice to executive management in health care, municipal government, manufacturing and avionics systems support sectors.

Ashley is passionate about helping others and promoting activities in the Annapolis Valley. She volunteers with her border collies in the St. John Ambulance Therapy Dog Program, helping children in elementary schools improve their reading skills. She has volunteered for various organizations, including a therapeutic riding program and a not-for-profit youth centre, as a Board Member and Treasurer.

Ashley grew up and still lives in Greenwood on a small hobby farm raising sheep.

Bob Gaudet
Production Manager, Michelin North America – Waterville Facility

After working several years in the Alberta oilfield industry, Bob returned to Nova Scotia to begin his career with Michelin.
Bob has held many roles in his 37-year career with Michelin, including supply chain, IT, quality technician, HR Management, environment, health, and safety. He currently holds the position of Production Manager.

Bob graduated from Acadia University with a BBA and is involved in the community as Chair of the Annapolis Valley Safe Communities Coalition and membership in the Valley Business Leaders’ Initiative. 

Susan MacDougall
CEO, Windsor Elms

Susan is well versed in leadership, organizational development, labour relations, environmental stewardship and prudent fiscal management.

She began her career working in healthcare in the United States and, before becoming CEO of Windsor Elms Village, she was responsible for the opening and operations of three long-term care facilities.

Susan holds an MSc in Business from Husson University, a Bachelor of Recreation Management from Acadia University, a Diploma in Nursing from the VG School of Nursing and an Executive Management Certificate from Dalhousie University.

Susan serves on several Boards of Directors/Governors in continuing education, Indigenous economic development and regional economic development. She is an active member of the Steering Committee for the Nova Scotia Health & Safety Leadership Charter and sits on the Board of Directors for The Nursing Homes of Nova Scotia Association.

Susan and her husband Rob live in Kentville and together have five children and two grandchildren.

Cris Shirritt
Founder, BTW Law

Cris launched BTW Law in 2015 to focus exclusively on supporting Annapolis Valley businesses and their owners. In his role as a legal and business advisor, he sees daily the opportunities and challenges of doing business in the Annapolis Valley.

Cris graduated from the University of Saskatchewan with degrees in accounting and law. He has also completed Levels I, II and III of the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada’s In-depth Tax Program.

Cris began his legal career in a large, regional law firm, providing tax and business advice to clients from start-up businesses to multi-national public companies.

He has established two start-up ventures and is managing the growth and contraction of a well-established business. Cris has been an active community volunteer and is currently a director and member of the executive committee of the Annapolis Valley Chamber of Commerce.

Valley Regional Enterprise Network Helping You Grow In the Valley