About the Valley REN
“Communities working together to create a prosperous region.”
To guide and navigate regional economic development while providing support to businesses, operating as a connector among economic development partners, supporting business growth and retention, and providing leadership on economic priorities.
Who We Are
The Valley Regional Enterprise Network (Valley REN) was incorporated in March 2014 under the Municipal Government Act. The partnership comprises the Glooscap First Nation; Municipality of the County of Kings; Municipality of the District of West Hants; and the Towns of Berwick, Kentville, Middleton, Windsor and Wolfville. It is led by a volunteer Board of Directors, drawn mostly from the private sector and bringing to the table a wealth of experience in business and economic leadership.
The Valley REN serves the eastern part of the Annapolis Valley – West Hants region of Nova Scotia.
The Annapolis Valley region has strong communities – rural and urban – and an abundance of farmland, coastline, rivers, lakes, and mountains supporting a rich quality of life, a diversified and stable economy, and a wealth of outdoor recreation opportunities.
Learn about our communities
View a profile of the Annapolis Valley to learn about our communities.
What We Do
Our Core Activities
- Develop, implement and monitor a regional economic development strategy that is reflective of provincial and regional economic development priorities
- Cultivate close working relationships with the business community to support the development and attraction of new businesses and to retain and expand existing businesses
- Inform partners and stakeholders about local business-climate conditions as well as regional challenges and opportunities
People are our strength. A Liaison and Oversight Committee, representing our municipal and First Nation partners and the Government of Nova Scotia, ensures fiscal prudence and accountability. Our Board of Directors, with its strong business and economic-development experience, provides strategic leadership. CEO Kelly Ells, who oversees the administrative branch of the Valley REN, turns the strategy into action.
Chief Executive Officer
Kelly Ells has been the CEO since November 24, 2014. Kelly graduated from Dalhousie University with a B.Sc. in Chemistry and from Saint Mary’s University with a Bachelor of Education and an MBA. Kelly came to the REN with senior sales, marketing and management experience with key businesses in the Annapolis Valley: Nova Agri Inc., ACA Co-operative, and BioMedica Diagnostics Inc. Kelly’s roots and experience are in the Valley region and she lives in Wolfville.
Board of Directors
2016 - 2017 Board Members
Scott Roberts, Executive Director Communications and Marketing, joined Acadia University in January 2004 to manage its communications activities related to strengthening the Acadia brand with incoming students, community stakeholders and news media. Scott has more than 25 years of combined experience in communications, government relations and public policy development across Canada as well as a BA (Economics) from the University of Waterloo. He and his wife, Janet, have two sons and live in Wolfville, where they are both active community volunteers.
Board Term expires March 2017
Michele Fash is the Director of Business Development with ACENET. She has been in the marketing field for 25 years, her career spanning the federal government and both large and small companies in the private sector. Her background includes industrial goods, consumer packaged goods, the grocery trade, private consulting, and now the technology sector. Michele graduated from Acadia University with a BBA, later completing an MBA at Dalhousie University. Having been away for a number of years, she has been back living in Wolfville with her husband and son since 2008.
Board Term Expires in March 2017
Don Abbey is President/CEO of Abbey Capital Management (family enterprise advising, focusing on family business succession planning). He has extensive senior leadership and management experience in the Valley region. Don has been a business owner of a multi-branch, multi-million dollar enterprise and Vice- President and General Manager of Annapolis Valley Radio Station. He was President of the Wolfville Business Development Corporation and has served leading roles in both professional and community organizations throughout the region. Don has been in the Valley for 30+ years and resides in Kentville.
Board Term Expires March 2018
For 30 years Barry Gander has helped jump-start the development of advanced technology organizations in Canada and abroad. As Executive Vice-President of Canada’s largest high-tech association, the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance, Barry has helped showcase the best of Canadian innovation to global markets. The i-CANADA program, which he co-founded, aims to create an “Intelligent Nation” by establishing a grass-roots movement of communities that network digitally at ultra- fast speed. He has authored several best-selling books and created new social networks. Recently, he co-founded i-Valley, dedicated to the creation of a Smart Annapolis Valley.
Board Term Expires in March 2019
Scott Hearn holds the position of Vice-President of Real Estate and Development for Parsons Investments, a leading Real Estate Development Company based in the Annapolis Valley with holdings across Nova Scotia. Previous positions include Managing Director for Corporate Geographics, a Toronto-based site selection firm, and as a Consultant for Turner Drake & Partners in Halifax. Scott has a BA from Acadia University and a postgraduate certificate in Applied Digital Geography and GIS.
Board Term Expires March 2019
Alex Jurgens graduated from Dalhousie University with a B.Sc. with Honors and a M.Sc. in Chemistry and from Ole Miss – the University of Mississippi – with a PhD. He joined Sepracor and rose to become Vice-President and General Manager until he left in 2011 to accept employment with Slanmhor Pharmaceutical Inc, a spinoff of Ocean Nutrition Canada, where he is currently employed. Dr. Jurgens and his wife, Dr. Tannis Jurgens, reside in Falmouth with their daughters, Kate and Claire. Dr. Jurgens is a Rotarian, a member of the Board of Governors of King’s-Edgehill School and a member of the Board of Directors of Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia.
Board Term Expires March 2018
Bob Maher graduated with a Ph.D from the University of Western Ontario. Following a 30 plus year career as an instructor and senior scientific researcher, Bob and his wife Heather made their permanent home in Paradise, Annapolis County. They maintain an organic orchard and produce sweet cider. Bob has a long term interest in rural economic development. He was on the inaugural Valley REN board until 2015, when Heather accepted an assignment in Haida Gwaii. He is a Board member of the Ernest Buckler Literary Event Society. He writes a regular blog for GoGeomatics, and maintains his own blog site at ErnestBlairExperiment.wordpress.com
Board Term Expires in March 2020
W. Coby Milne
W. Coby Milne graduated from St. Francis Xavier University with a Master’s Degree in Adult Education, with a focus on Cognitive Skills Development. Currently, he is applying expertise in the non-profit sector as a Project Coordinator with PeopleWorx. Designing and consulting in workforce skill development, he has led numerous provincial pilots to improve employee employability and training. He currently holds the position of Vice-President for Fusion Annapolis Valley, a networking organization designed to engage and connect young professionals in the Valley to build a network and to support economic and career growth for the youth of the Valley.
Board Term Expires in March 2018
Dan Mullen is a second-generation mink farmer, Past President of the Nova Scotia Mink Breeders Association, and has served on various boards during the development of The Nova Scotia Fur Act, and the National Humane Care Code for mink. Dan received his Pastoral Theology Diploma from Summit Pacific, and spent four years in the BC lumber sector. After five years as a residential construction project manager in the HRM, Dan put down roots in Waterville with his wife Karen and three children, building a new farm and continuing the Mullen family mink tradition.
Board Term expires March 2018
David Ritcey has been a licensed Portfolio Manager with Scotia Wealth Management for the past 25 years. He is a graduate of Acadia University and holds several senior professional designations. Beyond his activity in a number of industry-related organizations, Dave has a wealth of experience serving on local boards and is currently serving on the boards of Solar Capital Energy Inc., Annapolis Valley Chamber of Commerce, Kings Historical Society and Kings Citizen Coalition. Dave makes Kentville his home with his wife Melissa.
Board Term Expires in March 2020