Economic developers meet in Sault - Bondar guest speakerMonday, June 18, 2012 by: SooToday.com Staff
ONTARIO ASSOCIATION OF COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT CORPORATIONS
Rural economic developers meet in Sault Ste. Marie
More than 200 delegates working in rural economic development are meeting in Sault Ste. Marie this week at a conference of the Ontario Association of Community Futures Development Corporations (OACFDC).
The members of the organization represent 61 Community Futures Development Corporations, located in small towns and rural areas across the province.
Community Futures Development Corporations (CFDCs) offer free business counselling and provide loans to entrepreneurs, in addition to working on community economic development projects and community strategic planning.
CFDCs in Southern Ontario are funded by FedDev Ontario, while those in Northern Ontario are funded by Industry Canada through FedNor.
They operate as not-for-profit corporations.
Decisions are made locally by volunteer boards of directors working with managers and staff in each office.
Volunteer directors and staff alike will be attending the conference June 21 to 23.
OACFDC President Judy Nafziger cites a study undertaken by the Conference Board of Canada, which shows that for every $1 that CFDCs invest in Ontario communities, the local economy experiences a lift of $4.22.
The theme of this year’s conference is “History in the Making…Planning our Destiny” and the opening ceremonies on June 21 will feature a look at the 100th anniversary of the city of Sault Ste. Marie and the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812.
To welcome delegates, re-enactors will do a live presentation of the war, stepping back in time 200 years.
Hosting this year’s conference is the Community Development Corporation of Sault Ste. Marie and Area.
“We are offering two mobile workshops – one to see the city’s alternative energy sector, and another to visit the downtown core,” says OACFDC Executive Director Diana Jedig.
In addition to various business topics, there are workshops on engaging Aboriginal youth and collaborating with First Nations.
The keynote speaker will be Roberta Bondar, Canada’s first female astronaut.
She headed an international research team studying the effects of space flight on astronauts.
Today, she is a physician, scientific researcher, photographer, author, environmental interpreter, team leader, and a proud ambassador of Sault Ste. Marie.
“She has such groundbreaking insights on the environment and innovation” Ms. Jedig says. “She is a fantastic speaker.We are really looking forward to hearing her message,” Ms. Nafziger added.
As well, delegates will enjoy a feast of local foods at the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Museum.
The conference will close on Saturday night with an Awards Gala.
Two CFDCs will be honoured for successful community projects in which they have taken the initiative, and an Entrepreneur of the Year will be named.
The entrepreneur will be chosen from several nominees, all successful businesses that received loans and counselling from CFDCS.