NSREN conference stresses province wide cooperation in growing Nova Scotia's economy
Representatives from Nova Scotia’s six Regional Enterprise Networks (REN) met in Baddeck on September 8 for their first conference since the networks started forming three years ago. RENS are tasked by the provincial government with providing economic leadership in regions of the province while working together to grow Nova Scotia’s economy.
Keith Macdonald, President and CEO of Cape Breton Partnership (which manages the Cape Breton Regional Enterprise Network (CBREN)), said the sessions were informative for municipal and federal government representatives and private sector partners also in attendance.
“We heard from many mayors and wardens across the province that they appreciated the updates and are now more aware of what the RENS are actively advancing as projects,” stated Macdonald on Sept. 11.
Angélique Leblanc, Chief Executive Officer for the Western REN (Digby and Yarmouth Counties), spoke at the conference and also recognized the need for education given major shifts in economic development in Nova Scotia over the past five years.
“I think it's important for us [RENS] to communicate to all of our partners that we aren't about duplicating anything here, we're about leveraging all the resources we have for the benefit of the business community in the province. We must demonstrate that value to the private sector. And if we're not demonstrating it, I guarantee you'll hear about it.”
Macdonald emphasized the fact that “Regional Enterprise Networks action plans are created through interaction and feedback from the private sector on what priorities should be worked upon in their particular jurisdiction.” He said that the CBREN staff hold annual roundtables with businesses, and meet one-onone with individuals regularly.
Conference speaker Emilie de Rosenroll is the former Director of the Nova Scotia Association of Regional Development Authority, the organization succeeded by RENS. She now runs a private sector initiative in Victoria, B.C., entitled South Island Prosperity Project. Rosenroll says that RENS are not just a replacement for RDAS but a logical evolution.
“The REN has been created to be a much broader regional organization. It builds on the work that the RDAS already did. A rich history and knowledge capital exists here in Nova Scotia, so I think you have a huge tradition to draw on.”
Rosenroll also sees other reasons why Nova Scotia is well-positioned for growth.
“Nova Scotia has a great advantage in being a smaller province with really robust partnerships. It's something that you can take for granted while you're here, but it takes a lot longer to build when there's no history of doing it that way.”
Senator Dan Christmas spoke about the development of the One Nova Scotia Coalition and how it measures the health of Nova Scotia’s economy.
In 2012, the Province of Nova Scotia, along with private and public sector partners, started reviewing the province’s economy under the Nova Scotia Commission on Building Our New Economy (now referred to as the One Nova Scotia Coalition). Chaired by then President and Vice-chancellor of Acadia University Ray Ivany, the commission identified demographic and economic challenges and 19 goals to building a stronger, sustainable economy. A report entitled “Now or Never: An Urgent Call to Action for Nova Scotia” was released in 2014 and is commonly referred to as the ‘Ivany Report’. Over the next two years, government and partners worked to develop a playbook entitled “We Choose Now: A Playbook for Nova Scotians.” Since February, One Nova Scotia has maintained a website where everyday Nova Scotians can examine the progress being made towards each goal. Visit the website at http://onens.ca.
Senator Dan Christmas speaks at the NSREN Partners for Progress Conference in Baddeck on Sept. 8, 2017.