On behalf of our municipal partners and the province, the Valley REN is working with the business community to develop five key sectors: agriculture, tourism, information and communications technologies (ICT), manufacturing, and sustainable energy. We do this by bringing businesses together to spark ideas and pursue innovative ways to build on our assets and competitive strengths in the Valley region.
We are delighted to report that on December 7, more than 60 representatives of business, industry and government came together to share their insights on these key sectors.
Our sector table workshop was held at the NSCC Kingstec campus in Kentville. The enthusiasm and interest in the room was inspiring, and the Valley REN is incredibly grateful to all who spent their morning with us.
The participation at our workshop, and the feedback we have received, strengthens our conviction that by working together, we will find opportunities and solutions to create a prosperous region.
As an overview, we are pleased to share some of the feedback received from each of the key sectors.
Passion within the industry is considered a strength for the agriculture sector, which sees greater opportunity for developing the local food movement. Key weaknesses and threats include limited processing facilities, a lack of workers, and a lack of public awareness about the benefits of agriculture for the local economy.
Businesses in the tourism sector are willing to collaborate, especially on the developing culinary and wine industry, and they value developing those relationships and working together for prosperity. Key challenges include human resource shortages, staying relevant and exciting, profitability and limited financial resources, and infrastructure.
Information and communications technologies (ICT)
The ICT sector values the diverse industry associations in the region and highlighted the opportunity for cross-sectoral collaboration. Key challenges include access to qualified, experienced workers and the need to retain/grow the talent pool; achieving greater diversity in the workplace; knowledge sharing and collaboration across the industry; and global competition.
The manufacturing sector has strong expertise and knowledge in our region and values the opportunities for increased value-added product development and co-operation with universities and colleges. Key challenges include limited public awareness of the manufacturing industry in our region and import competition and fairness.
The sustainable energy sector boasts an engaged community with young talent and sees opportunities in developing an educated workforce. Key challenges include lack of consumer awareness, regulatory processes, and grid modernization.
Overall, we heard the themes of the need for local partnership and collaboration across sectors; the importance of connecting businesses with universities and colleges to address workforce challenges; and the opportunities for consumer and industry awareness.
Do you agree with these themes and do they align with the opportunities and challenges you face in your business? Let us know by leaving a comment in the comment section of this post.
Very soon we will share the report from our workshop facilitator, which will capture the ideas gathered during the workshop. The Valley REN will use that report to guide our business planning for 2017-2018. So, stay tuned on upcoming initiatives and actions!
Emily Konrath is an Economic Development Officer at the Valley REN.