Colchester County has put economic development on the front burner with the recent hiring of a new officer.
Joy O’Neill, a former economic development professional in the Annapolis-Digby area, was welcomed by the municipality last week.
This new position, based at the county office in Truro, was created on the heels of the demise of the Colchester Regional Development Agency that wound down its operation last February after serving the region for more than 20 years.
O’Neill’s 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 in the business community.
It may take time for many people who once benefited from the one-stop shopping of services offered by CoRDA to realize the full benefit of O’Neill’s expertise. But her impressive track record in the valley and seven years experience with the Annapolis-Digby Regional Development Agency, balancing the portfolios of tourism, manufacturing, retail and agriculture sectors, will surely boost confidence in people seeking her services.
While the county appears to have its plan to address business development needs in order, the town of Truro is in discussions with other municipalities in northern Nova Scotia to identify ways to provide economic leadership by participating in a provincially supported Regional Enterprise Network. Two years ago the federal government announced it would discontinue core funding to regional economic development organizations in Atlantic Canada. The same year the province reviewed the operation of regional development authorities and followed a recommendation to establish six Regional Enterprise Networks (REN) across the province.
While Colchester County has branched out on its own economic development plans, seemingly opting out of the REN organization, the municipalities of Truro, Stewiacke, Amherst, Cumberland County and East Hants are still at the table.
There is strength in numbers and the sharing of resources is usually a benefit.
It is too early to tell which path may yield greater success, but it is our hope both find their way down the road to increase opportunities here and boost the local economy.