Who We Are

Supporting the financial, social, and individual well-being of the people, businesses and communities we serve in the Annapolis Valley

Helping the Valley grow and prosper.

With services designed to grow economic well-being and sustainability, the Valley Regional Enterprise Network is the only publicly funded organization dedicated to supporting the local economic development in the Annapolis Valley region.

Valley REN At a Glance

  • Incorporated in March 2014.
  • Members are Glooscap First Nation, the Municipality of the County of Kings, West Hants Regional Municipality, and the Towns of Berwick, Kentville and Middleton
  • Funding is provided by these members and is matched by the Province of Nova Scotia.
  • Governed by a Liaison and Oversight Committee and a Board of Directors from the private sector.

Our Unique Role and Competitive Advantage

The Valley REN’s competitive advantage is our ability to objectively address the economic and business development needs of the Region as a whole – without being confined to municipal boundaries – and, despite being publicly funded on an inter-municipal and provincial basis, to have the overview necessary to link both public and private sector organizations to achieve specific economic development objectives in the Annapolis Valley.

If public and private organizations work together, we will create a more competitive and attractive region from a business standpoint, evident in an increase and retention of diverse and sustainable business activity among small, medium and large businesses, as well as in attracting labour force and new residents.

Our Mandate

  • Provide centralized access to regional “Valley” business and economic data, including proprietary research to assess the needs and performance of local businesses.
  • Recommend and drive Annapolis Valley regional economic development strategies and measurable growth, with a view to reflecting the needs and goals of private business, municipalities and the Province.
  • Act as “Opportunity Connectors” across the private and public sectors, so that the dreams of businesses and individuals can become a reality.
  • Serve as supporters and enablers of regional competitiveness and investment readiness, by communicating the Valley’s advantages and potential to local, provincial, national and international audiences.
  • Make a meaningful and positive impact on the Valley’s regional economic development, by demonstrating impact, progress and measurable results from within the REN organization.

Our Team

Jennifer Tufts, CEO
jtufts@valleyren.ca

Richelle Brown Redden, EDO – Strategic Initiatives
rbrownredden@valleyren.ca

Burnell Lyons, BusinessNOW Officer
blyons@valleyren.ca

Taylor de Vries, Connector Program Coordinator
connector@valleyren.ca

Chrystal Remme, Communications & Executive Support
cremme@valleyren.ca

 

 

Board of Directors

Paul Dixon

Paul Dixon

Chair

Owner/Operator at Safeguard Property Management & Services

Paul is the President of Safeguard Property Management, serving all three counties of Hants, Kings and Annapolis. Originally from Paradise, Newfoundland, Paul was transferred to the Valley back in 1994 to work at Zellers in New Minas instantly falling in love with the area, never wanting to leave. Following Zellers, and before opening Safeguard in 2016, Paul worked at Staples, Home Depot and Workplace Essentials in the roles of Sales Management, Store Management and Operations.

Mike Bannister

Mike Bannister

Vice Chair

President & CEO of Atlantic Poultry Incorporated

Before his role with API, Mike has been leading food and beverage organizations in the Consumer Packaged Goods industry across Canada (Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto) and in the US (San Francisco, Atlanta, Austin TX). Originally from Shediac, New Brunswick, he is thrilled to be back in the Maritimes.

Mike has an extensive background in the sales and marketing fields, having managed some of the country’s most prominent brands. His main areas of focus are leadership and innovation.

Mike holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the Universite de Moncton, has served and led several boards (not-for-profit and for-profit) and is most passionate about causes around homelessness, food insecurity and equality.

Carrie Bernard
Plant Manager, Michelin (Waterville)

Carrie joined Michelin in 1992 as an Industrial Project Engineer in Pictou, Nova Scotia. Over the course of her 30-year career, she has held numerous roles around the world, including Plant Manager of a Michelin factory in Epinal, France. Most recently, Carrie was the Talent Director for Michelin North America, based in Greenville, South Carolina.

In August 2021, Carrie was pleased to return home to Nova Scotia as the Plant Manager at the Waterville factory. She is passionate about ensuring that the Annapolis Valley and Nova Scotia continue to grow, offering both a wonderful lifestyle and great opportunities for the people who live here, and believes Michelin can play an important part in this.

Carrie holds a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering, and an MBA from Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada. 

Jessica Clahane
Senior Manager, Assurance Services, Grant Thornton LLP

Jessica, a CPA, CA, has over 12 years’ experience in public accounting practice. Through her role as an accountant and business advisor she understands many of the challenges and opportunities that present themselves to local business, from small owner/operated farms or shops to large manufacturing companies, government organizations and everything in between.

Jessica grew up and has raised three children in the Annapolis Valley and is proud to call it home. She is an active member of the community, having served on several not-for-profit boards over the years, and most recently completely a term as a Director and Past President of the Annapolis Valley Chamber of Commerce. She is a current member of the Rotary Club of Kentville.

Jessica shares a passion for the Annapolis Valley and believes we all have a part to play in contributing to its continued prosperity.

Ashley Crocker
Director of Finance, Glooscap First Nation & Glooscap Ventures

Ashley, a CPA (CGA) with a BBA from Acadia University and a MBA from Saint Mary’s University, has over ten years of experience providing strategic accounting advice to executive management in health care, municipal government, manufacturing and avionics systems support sectors.

Ashley is passionate about helping others and promoting activities in the Annapolis Valley. She volunteers with her border collies in the St. John Ambulance Therapy Dog Program, helping children in elementary schools improve their reading skills. She has volunteered for various organizations, including a therapeutic riding program and a not-for-profit youth center, as a Board Member and Treasurer.

Ashley grew up and still lives in Greenwood on a small hobby farm raising sheep.

Gerard d’Entremont
Community Innovation Lead, NSCC (Nova Scotia Community College) Annapolis Valley Region

Gerard d’Entremont is the Community Innovation Lead with the Nova Scotia Community College Kingstec and Annapolis Valley campuses. With 21 years’ experience under his belt, he links client needs with customized training-based solutions, helping organizations increase organizational effectiveness. He holds a BA (Economics) and B.Ed. from Mount Allison University and a MEd in Educational Administration from the University of New Brunswick.

Gerard and his wife Becky live in Kentville along with their two daughters, Heather and Darcy.

 

Bob Gaudet
Production Manager, Michelin North America – Waterville Facility

After working several years in the Alberta oilfield industry, Bob returned to Nova Scotia to begin his career with Michelin.
Bob has held many roles in his 37-year career with Michelin, including supply chain, IT, quality technician, HR Management, environment, health, and safety. He currently holds the position of Production Manager.

Bob graduated from Acadia University with a BBA and is involved in the community as Chair of the Annapolis Valley Safe Communities Coalition and membership in the Valley Business Leaders’ Initiative. 

Anna Redden
Associate Vice-President Research & Dean of Graduate Studies, Acadia University

Anna plays a key role at Acadia in developing research policy and advancing innovative research and graduate programs. Working with industry and community partners, government agencies, and other research institutions, she contributed to the Valley REN’s Renewable Energy Sector Table in 2016.

Anna has science degrees in Biology from Acadia University (BSc Hon, MSc) and Memorial University (Ph.D.). Her postdoctoral studies and first faculty appointments were held in Australia. Anna returned to Nova Scotia and Acadia in 2005 as Associate Professor in Biology and Director of the Acadia Centre for Estuarine Research.

In response to the rising interest in tidal energy development in the Bay of Fundy in the late 2000s, Dr. Redden co-led the establishment of the Fundy Energy Research Network (FERN). In 2011, she co-founded and served as the first Director of the Acadia Tidal Energy Institute. From 2009 to 2016, Anna served as an Independent Director on the Board of the Fundy Ocean Research Centre for Energy (FORCE) and has been a Board member of the Offshore Energy Research Association (OERA) of Nova Scotia since 2018. Her most recent Board appointment has been with Springboard. 

Stephen Shaw
Executive Director, CBDC Hants-Kings

With an MBA (Finance) from Saint Mary’s University and more than 25 years of banking and small business experience, Stephen is a customer-focused leader with a passion for community.

Stephen strives to ensure that all entrepreneurs receive the advice, training and financing they need to be successful and a productive part of our local economy. 

Cris Shirritt
Founder, BTW Law
 

Cris launched BTW Law in 2015 to focus exclusively on supporting Annapolis Valley businesses and their owners. In his role as a legal and business advisor, he sees daily the opportunities and challenges of doing business in the Annapolis Valley.

Cris graduated from the University of Saskatchewan with degrees in accounting and law. He has also completed Levels I, II and III of the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada’s In-depth Tax Program.

Cris began his legal career in a large, regional law firm, providing tax and business advice to clients from start-up businesses to multi-national public companies.

He has established two start-up ventures and is managing the growth and contraction of a well-established business. Cris has been an active community volunteer and is currently a director and member of the executive committee of the Annapolis Valley Chamber of Commerce.

Valley Regional Enterprise Network Helping You Grow In the Valley
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