Op­ti­mism on the menu at SRDC’s an­nual gen­eral meet­ing

The Southern Gazette - - NEWS - BY PAUL HER­RIDGE

Ian Ed­wards re­called a time not that long ago when all the ma­jor com­mu­ni­ties on the Burin Penin­sula bus­tled with ac­tiv­ity each day.

The chair­per­son of Schooner Re­gional De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion’s (SRDC) board of direc­tors told stake­hold­ers gath­ered for the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s an­nual gen­eral meet­ing in Marys­town Wed­nes­day evening he be­lieves it can hap­pen once more.

“I don’t think that day is that far away again.”

Mr. Ed­wards sug­gested Schooner is carv­ing out a new niche for it­self in eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment – one that places an em­pha­sis on col­lab­o­ra­tion with the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s stake­hold­ers in­clud­ing gov­ern­ment agen­cies, in­dus­try and towns.

He noted all com­mu­ni­ties on the penin­sula have a num­ber of good pos­si­bil­i­ties for growth that would serve to ben­e­fit the en­tire area.

“ It’s all about col­lab­o­ra­tion be­cause if any­one of th­ese events or ac­tiv­i­ties take place, it’ll be good for the whole re­gion.”

He specif­i­cally pointed to the fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s pro­posed plan to im­ple­ment a ship­build­ing strat­egy, the He­bron project and Vale Inco’s nickel pro­cess­ing plant in Long Har­bour as other ini­tia­tives that will likely im­pact the penin­sula.

He noted he had made an ob­ser­va­tion dur­ing the time he has spent at the Long Har­bour site lately for his own Marys­town-based con­sult­ing firm.

“If you walk around the site in Long Har­bour, there’s more peo­ple there from the Burin Penin­sula than you can shake a stick at. I’m re­ally se­ri­ous. There’s a lot of peo­ple from the Burin Penin­sula and more com­ing ev­ery day.”

Mr. Ed­wards iden­ti­fied aqua­cul­ture as an area he would like to see the or­ga­ni­za­tion pur­sue in the im­me­di­ate fu­ture. He noted en­hanc­ing the in­dus­try on the penin­sula could reap huge re­wards, as ev­i­denced by the St. Al­ban’s and Har­bour Bre­ton re­gions, where there isn’t enough peo­ple to do the work.

“Most of that’s re­lated to the aqua­cul­ture in­dus­try – mil­lions and mil­lions and mil­lions of dol­lars. There’s a lot of op­por­tu­nity there.”

As he makes way for a new chair­per­son, af­ter serv­ing his two years in the po­si­tion, he parted with a re­minder that eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment of­ten oc­curs when peo­ple take a step out­side their own com­fort zone.

“If we’re re­ally comfortabl­e, we’re re­ally not chal­leng­ing our­selves – and that’s each and ev­ery one of us has to do that – and you have to be in­no­va­tive. You have to take chal­lenges head on. Some­times you’re go­ing to get a lit­tle knock and get pushed aside. Things are go­ing to hap­pen, not al­ways the way you want, but you have to get up and go again.”

SUP­PLI­ERS AL­LIANCE

SRDC de­vel­op­ment of­fi­cer Ellen Picco was the guest speaker for Wed­nes­day’s event and gave an over­view of the East­ern Sup­pli­ers De­vel­op­ment Al­liance.

She ex­plained Schooner has joined forces with the Dis­cov­ery Re­gional Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Board in the Clarenvill­e area and the Avalon Gate­way Re­gional Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Board to cre­ate the ini­tia­tive.

Along with pro­vin­cial and fed­eral fund­ing agen­cies, part­ners also in­clude cham­bers of com­merce for Marys­town, Clarenvill­e and Arnold’s Cove.

Mrs. Picco in­di­cated the group aims to in­crease eco­nomic growth and di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion, while mit­i­gat­ing neg­a­tive per­cep­tions and en­hanc­ing aware­ness of op­por­tu­ni­ties in man­u­fac­tur­ing, fabri­ca­tion and the sup­ply sec­tor of the oil and gas in­dus­try.

She noted ac­tiv­i­ties would fo­cus chiefly on op­por­tu­nity iden­ti­fi­ca­tion and busi­ness de­vel­op­ment rel­e­vant to the He­bron project.

Ms. Picco ac­knowl­edged in the past all three ar­eas have worked sep­a­rately to achieve those goals.

She in­di­cated re­cently eco­nomic and busi­ness de­vel­op­ment or­ga­ni­za­tions, as well as gov­ern­ment de­part­ments, have re­al­ized a joint ap­proach in pro­mot­ing the ca­pa­bil­i­ties of the re­gions to in­dus­try and en­hanc­ing in­dus­try op­por­tu­ni­ties within the lo­cal busi­ness com­mu­nity will cre­ate greater syn­er­gies and eco­nomic growth.

She ex­plained “Many of the small and medium-sized busi­nesses in this re­gion have the per­cep­tion that ‘I’m too small to bid on those big projects.’ Well, the ac­tiv­i­ties of the al­liance will as­sist in mit­i­gat­ing this neg­a­tive per­cep­tion and move bar­ri­ers that neg­a­tively im­pact break­ing into the sup­ply chain.”

Mrs. Picco noted the in­dus­try’s im­por­tance to this re­gion is un­de­ni­able and pointed out a great num­ber of res­i­dents from the area work in the in­dus­try. She ac­knowl­edged the op­por­tu­ni­ties for spin-offs and other ben­e­fits are enor­mous.

“By com­ing to­gether, the al­liance has a larger base of busi­nesses to part­ner with, and; by rep­re­sent­ing a larger group of busi­nesses, the al­liance achieves economies of scale and ben­e­fits that would not be fea­si­ble through a uni­lat­eral ap­proach.”

‘YEAR-IN-RE­VIEW’

Everett Far­well, vice-chair­per­son of SRDC’s board of direc­tors, gave a ‘Year-in-Re­view’ dur­ing the meet­ing.

The or­ga­ni­za­tion is presently without an ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, fol­low­ing the de­par­ture of Paul McGinn, who has re­lo­cated to Nova Sco­tia.

Mr. Far­well called this an “ex­cit­ing time” for the re­gion and sug­gested there is a lot of op­ti­mism all the hard work in re­cent years will re­sult in a “groundswel­l of eco­nomic and so­cial ben­e­fits for the Burin Penin­sula.”

He said the pos­si­bil­ity of an “in­dus­trial revo­lu­tion” of sorts ex­ists for the re­gion in the next decade.

He cited a re­vi­tal­ized fish­ery sup­ported by a grow­ing aqua­cul­ture in­dus­try, more min­eral dis­cov­er­ies, a grow­ing agri­cul­ture in­dus­try, megapro­jects uti­liz­ing a grav­ing dock at the ship­yard in Marys­town and wind en­ergy among the puz­zle pieces nec­es­sary.

Mr. Far­well then took stake­hold­ers through the nu­mer­ous ac­tiv­i­ties and ini­tia­tives the or­ga­ni­za­tion has spear­headed or par­tic­i­pated in over the last year, walk­ing through the var­i­ous strate­gic pri­or­ity sec­tors in­clud­ing fabri­ca­tion and man­u­fac­tur­ing, nat­u­ral re­sources, fish­ery and aqua­cul­ture and tourism.

He noted SRDC has adopted a per­for­mance-based fund­ing model to as­sist the or­ga­ni­za­tion in pri­or­i­tiz­ing and eval­u­at­ing the suc­cess of its ac­tiv­i­ties. He in­di­cated a pro­fes­sional de­vel­op­ment sem­i­nar has been sched­uled later this month to fa­mil­iar­ize direc­tors and stake­hold­ers with the new model.

The past year rep­re­sented the sec­ond of SRDC’s three year Strate­gic Eco­nomic Plan.

Mr. Far­well in­di­cated a meet­ing with re­gional stake­hold­ers would take place next month to gauge the level of im­ple­men­ta­tion of the cur­rent plan and to be­gin prepa­ra­tions to put to­gether the next multi-year strat­egy.

He con­cluded “Schooner and its many stake­hold­ers have laid the foun­da­tion for eco­nomic growth and sus­tain­abil­ity. It is Schooner’s prom­ise to con­tinue to work with key stake­hold­ers to achieve its man­date.”

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