TRURO – As a former economic development professional in the Annapolis-Digby area, Joy O’Neill used to make business trips to the Truro/Colchester County area with “envy in my heart.”
But now, after recently becoming the economic development officer for Colchester County, O’Neill said it is she who is viewed in a similar light by others.
“And they actually envy me,” she said, of her business peers. “It’s really encouraging to hear that from other economic development professionals, you know, who tell me, ‘we wish we had an economy with as much potential as Colchester has.”’
The position of economic development officer for Colchester County is a new one that was created to help fill the void left by the recently disbanded Colchester Regional Development Agency (CoRDA).
For the past seven years, O’Neill served in a similar capacity with the Annapolis‐Digby Regional Development Agency where her portfolios included the tourism, manufacturing, retail and agriculture sectors.
O’Neill holds a masters degree as well as a certificate in economic development, she has corporate management experience, has worked on Wall Street in New York and has a background in international banking.
Her role with the county will include developing, implementing, monitoring and evaluating economic and business development initiatives within the municipality, including providing support to ongoing developmental activities and the business community.
O’Neill said she understands firsthand the challenges faced by smaller-scale Nova Scotia businesses and is “very excited” to be working for a community with economic potential that she said is without doubt the envy of other municipalities.
“The business atmosphere I find is very, very positive. Business in general seems to have a ‘can do’ attitude here. I see a lot of innovation, a lot of positivity,” she said.
“The statistics show that it’s basically HRM (Halifax Regional Municipality) and the Truro/Colchester area that are the growth regions in the province. And, obviously, there is good reason for that,” O’Neill added, of the strong business tradition and innovation that exists here.
“I came here with envy in my heart. It was really encouraging to see a region where there was growth, where there was a relatively strong economy.”
And it doesn’t hurt, as well, she said, that a son (one of her four adult children) and two grandchildren also live in the area.
“It’s been a really good atmosphere,” she said.