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During the month of June the Truro & Colchester Chamber of Commerce hosted several events surrounding the theme of partnerships.

More than 90 people attended a Partnership for Economic Prosperity rally held at the Marigold Cultural Centre on June 17 hosted by the Chamber in support of economic development. The rally featured presentations by keynote speakers and a panel of local business owners that shared their perspectives on current economic conditions, challenges facing business growth and opportunities in this region. During the discussion panel participants Andrea Munroe, Enchanted Forest; Cheryl MacLeod, Hub Tune Up & Repair Centre and Salmon River Collision Repair; Greg Veinott, TruLeaf; Richard Frotten, Tipperary Café; and moderator Mark Wood, Ocean Sonics, reinforced the importance of forging partnerships with other businesses, organizations and government to grow their business.

The panelist’s businesses are diverse, spanning a variety of sectors from retail and food service to research and development and automotive service.

One of the many themes discussed by the group was the need to create a greater awareness of local opportunities, showcasing the many “hidden gems” to markets outside Colchester County.  Another was the need to increase immigration by continuously working to change attitudes, become more welcoming and strengthening the business community’s partnership with the Truro campus Nova Scotia Community College and Dalhousie Agricultural Campus to entice international students to remain in the region following graduation, while also working to retain local youth.

That message was one that Business Minister Mark Furey also shared with the Chamber membership on June 21 during a breakfast event. Furey said Nova Scotia is leading the country in the reduction of youth unemployment across the country.

“Our youth are our future workforce,” said the Minister. “Experience isn’t something young people should get somewhere else.”

During his presentation he spoke about how the provincial government is creating new and strengthening existing partnerships with the business community from reduction of red tape and improving access to high-speed internet service to the launch of a new capital venture fund to support entrepreneurs.

“We know government can’t be all things to all people and we can’t spend our way into economic prosperity,” Furey said. He added that only the private sector can create jobs and his department is focused on making it easier for business to do business.

Another event hosted by the Chamber in June that showcased the importance of partnerships was a collaborative presentation by the mayors of Truro and Colchester County “Working with a Common Purpose,” previously shown last spring at the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities conference.

According to Colchester County Mayor Bob Taylor, County and Town have more shared services than any other two municipal units in the province. Taylor and Mayor Bill Mills reviewed the many ways the neighbouring municipalities work together detailing areas they cooperate such as water treatment, waste water treatment, joint flood management, solid waste management, regional event coordination, transit study, economic development, capital projects such as the construction of the Rath Eastlink Community Centre, Colchester Regional Library, Fundy Gateway Project, Cobequid Trail,  inter-municipal planning and development, joint council meetings and briefings and the establishment of a regional emergency measures organization also supported by the Town of Stewiacke.

The mayors also acknowledged that many of these projects such as the flood management could not have been achieved without the support of the provincial government.

“We continue to work with the province and our respective government to take this as far as we can,” Mills said during the presentation.

Taylor further reinforced the importance of partnerships between the municipalities and the province which led to the construction of the Rath Eastlink Community Centre.

“It wouldn’t have happened without us getting together and working with the province,” he said.

The final event hosted by the Chamber in June featured guest speaker Scott Brison, President of the Treasury Board of Canada. His presentation revolved around the three key themes, Innovation, Immigration and Infrastructure.

“Infrastructure is key and we’ve never had a better time in our lives to invest in infrastructure,” said Brison, also MP for Kings-Hants.

He said innovation is inherently connected to immigration, adding that immigrants bring expertise and new ideas, directly contributing to the growth of rural and small town Nova Scotia. Brison said everyone has a role to play in attracting and retaining immigrants.

“We need to banish this sort of Come From Away stigma that we attach to people who come from other places,” said the Treasury Board President. “We need to throw out the welcome mat.”

He said a regional strategy developed in partnership with business, community stakeholders and government will aid in creating a culture shift needed to demonstrate the area’s commitment to be a welcoming place attractive to new residents.

For more information about the Truro & Colchester Chamber of Commerce and its member benefits call 902-895-6328 or email ed@tcchamber.ca.

Sherry Martell is the Executive Director the Truro & Colchester Chamber of Commerce.