M-RON not just all business
Social, economic development group maps course for year
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.