M-RON not just all busi­ness

So­cial, eco­nomic devel­op­ment group maps course for year

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY AN­DREW ROBIN­SON arobin­son@cb­n­com­pass.ca

Mariner Re­source Op­por­tu­ni­ties Net­work Inc. has big plans for the com­ing year. The so­cial and eco­nomic devel­op­ment or­ga­ni­za­tion, which fo­cuses on the en­tire Bac­calieu Trail re­gion, held its an­nual gen­eral meet­ing in Car­bon­ear last Wed­nes­day.

Cre­at­ing stronger bonds with mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, fo­cus­ing on lo­cal busi­nesses, and ex­pand­ing al­ready ex­ist­ing so­cial pro­grams are just a few of the mat­ters at hand for Mariner Re­sources Op­por­tu­ni­ties Net­work ( M-RON) Inc. in the year ahead.

The lo­cal so­cial and eco­nomic devel­op­ment or­ga­ni­za­tion brought for­ward this mes­sage dur­ing its an­nual gen­eral meet­ing, held Wed­nes­day, Oct. 13 in Car­bon­ear. Some 60 peo­ple were in at­ten­dance.

Ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Karen Davis, who suc­ceeded Ge­orge Par­sons this year fol­low­ing his re­tire­ment, says busi­ness devel­op­ment ef­forts will in­volve en­cour­ag­ing re­la­tion­ships be­tween busi­nesses.

“ We want to make sure we en­gage busi­nesses in our lo­cal area,” she says. “ We know there’s a num­ber of op­por­tu­ni­ties, and there’s a lot of po­ten­tial in our lo­cal area.”

Part of that en­gage­ment process will look at iden­ti­fy­ing com­mon chal­lenges busi­nesses come across in the re­gion. Ad­di­tion­ally, she says, the Bac­calieu Trail re­gion has been hav­ing trou­ble hold­ing onto labour­ers. Ac­cord­ing to a study on the lo­cal labour mar­ket pre­sented at last year’s AGM, the labour short­age has been most no­tice­able in the fish­ery.

To rem­edy this, M-RON has been work­ing on an im­mi­gra­tion por­tal project. It will in­volve the cre­ation of a web­site to pro­vide an on­line rep­re­sen­ta­tion of what ser­vices the re­gion has to of­fer new res­i­dents. MRON re­ceived fund­ing for the web­site’s devel­op­ment from the Depart­ment of Hu­man Re­sources, Labour and Em­ploy­ment, and it will be launched in De­cem­ber.

A re­ten­tion strat­egy for keep­ing peo­ple in the re­gion is also in the works, says Davis.

“ One of the thing we’ve talked about is wel­com­ing com­mit­tees and en­gag­ing mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties. If there’s an op­por­tu­nity to bring new­com­ers to Heart’s Con­tent, we’d cer­tainly want to work with the mu­nic­i­pal­ity,” she says.

M-RON has been hear­ing from peo­ple out­side the re­gion ask­ing about the lo­cal area, and Davis says there is a need on their part to update its data­base to con­sider all in­fra­struc­tures in place.

Mar­ket­ing strate­gies to en­tice busi­nesses to open in the Bac­calieu Trail re­gion are also in the works, and Davis says M-RON will make sure it es­tab­lishes con­tact with new busi­nesses open­ing.

“ If there’s any­thing we can do or any way we can work with them in a part­ner­ship, we’d cer­tainly do that.”

Part of that process will in­volve de­vel­op­ing sup­port ser­vices to aid new en­trepreneurs in the re­gion, says Davis.

M-RON has been keep­ing a close eye on the tourism in­dus­try in the re­gion by net­work­ing with lo­cal tourism op­er­a­tors and the North­ern Avalon Tourism As­so­ci­a­tion.

“One of the things we’ve no­ticed is that in a lot of cases, many tourism op­er­a­tors have to close around the end of Au­gust or Sept. 1 be­cause there’s a lack of hu­man re­sources,” says Davis, who adds en­gag­ing se­niors may help in that area.

The home­less­ness is­sue in the re­gion is an­other mat­ter M-RON is look­ing at, and Davis says it has just re­ceived fund­ing to ex­am­ine the pos­si­bil­ity of de­vel­op­ing youth emer­gency hous­ing in the re­gion.

Davis says M-RON also hopes to ex­pand its so­cial pro­grams. The Sup­posed Em­ploy­ment Ser­vices pro­gram serves 97 clients with de­vel­op­men­tal dis­abil­i­ties, with five gain­ing within the past year.

The Bacc a l ieu Trai l Youth Em­ploy­ment Cen­tre has also kept busy, with 1,212 vis­its be­tween Sept. 1, 2009 and July 31, 2010. It gained 149 new clients within the last year. The Tar­geted Ini­tia­tive for Older Work­ers pro­gram helped pro­vide sub­si­dized em­ploy­ment last year to 12 peo­ple be­tween the ages of 55 and 64 years for 34 weeks, with four of the 12 re­tained as full-time em­ploy­ees. An­other ses­sion with 14 par­tic­i­pants started in May.

All work lead­ing up to the meet­ing last week has been done un­der a new or­ga­ni­za­tional struc­ture, with the man­age­ment of board ac­tiv­i­ties di­vided into threes streams: so­cioe­co­nomic, busi­ness devel­op­ment, and op­er­a­tional. An in­ter­nal ad­vi­sory com­mit­tee man­ages each stream.

The au­dited fi­nan­cial state­ments for 2008-09 were pre­sented at the AGM. With a year-end of Sept. 30, it was too soon for the or­ga­ni­za­tion to have its most cur­rent fi­nan­cial state­ments pre­pared. To avoid this sce­nario in the fu­ture, M-RON is look­ing at chang­ing its AGM date to some­time in Jan­uary.

Pho­tos by An­drew Robin­son/The Com­pass M-RON ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Karen Davis gives a pre­sen­ta­tion dur­ing the so­cial and eco­nomic devel­op­ment or­ga­ni­za­tion’s an­nual gen­eral meet­ing, held last week in Car­bon­ear. Busi­ness devel­op­ment, mu­nic­i­pal re­la­tions, and so­cial pro­grams are just a few of the ar­eas the or­ga­ni­za­tion in­tends to fo­cus on in the com­ing year.

M-RON chair­per­son Clyde D. Wells ad­dresses the au­di­ence from the podium dur­ing its an­nual gen­eral meet­ing in Car­bon­ear. Wells stepped down from his po­si­tion as board chair af­ter a decade-long in­volve­ment with M-RON.

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