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Andrew Wagstaff
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Panel discussion discusses wide range of ideas for Amherst

What will it take to make Amherst more attractive to businesses and new residents?

Taking part in an interactive panel discussion during Small Business Week activities on Oct. 22 were (from left) Andy Moore of NSCC, Michele LeBlanc of the Downtown Amherst Business Advisory Committee, Amherst town councillor David March and CBDC executive director Carys Wood.

AMHERST – Why not Amherst?

The question seems simple but the ideas and methods of attracting people and businesses to this community vary from person to person, as was indicated in Tuesday’s interactive panel discussion at the Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC) campus in Amherst, hosted as part of annual Small Business Week activities.

The panel consisting of town councillor David March, NSCC academic chair Andy Moore, Downtown Amherst Business Advisory Committee events committee chair Michele LeBlanc, and CBDC executive director Carys Wood led an engaging discussion with a room full of community representatives and leaders from around Cumberland County. Also on hand were several representatives from Nova Scotia Business Inc. (NSBI).

“The basis of today was the ideas presented at our Oct. 11 Idea Day,” explained chamber president Gladys Coish. “Now we’re talking about the actual ideas and how we start to implement them. Which are good ideas? Which will take longer?”

Key to the discussion was the participation from NSBI, whose representatives will in turn promote Amherst to prospective industries considering locating here, according to Coish.

“As a chamber, we’re putting together our best assets like great water, fabulous schools, a new hospital… and putting together a package,” she said. “We’re not looking at the economic development part of it, as a chamber; what we’re looking at is what we have to offer once they entice these people to come here.”

Ideas being tossed around the room were plentiful, ranging from the resurrection of the Maritime Winter Fair, to better promotion of the area as a retirement community, to capitalization on the story of the “Great Amherst Mystery,” to the construction of a new conference centre downtown.

Sponsored by the chamber, CBDC and NSCC, the week’s events have been aimed to increase engagement and participation from the community, according to Coish, who said it has been a success.

“This week has been all about our strategy of getting connected,” she said. “We’ve been on the phone, knocking on doors, and it’s happening. People are now saying the chamber is exploding, and they are coming out to all these events. This is going really well.”

awagstaff@citizenrecord.ca

Twitter: @ADNandrew

Organizations: Nova Scotia Business, Amherst and Area Chamber of Commerce

Geographic location: Cumberland County

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  • Davey Lee Goode
    October 25, 2013 - 11:23

    A Strategy is indeed a thing but its meaningless if its a poor one. Who's doors are being knocked on? Here's an idea for getting connected. It may be a good idea to knock on the door or pick up the phone to someone who actually moved their manufacturing and export small business here fairly recently. Just maybe that would be relevant and offer some insight into that. Uhm! "Greasy Groove"?. The chamber is exploding and doing what exactly? Handing out prizes based on very little thought or fact and holding dinner party's? Let's get this straight, the people of Amherst deserve great representation and good honest facts to base their decisions on. Great leadership and innovation brings great results - frankly that's not what I see demonstrated here in these articles. I have had experience and exposure to these issues all my life and there is a better way. I will continue to fight for good business initiatives and respect committees formed of with right people for the right reason - it's what people deserve. I am happy to see people engaging in discussion but question the strategy in play. There has been little thought put into building an infrastructure to handle this whole idea day thing and although it serves as a good PR drive for those involved it offers little to actual entrepreneurs. I myself have many initiatives going that have been discussed with numerous national organizations to build great opportunities for Amherst. When building something huge, the initial focus is on the all important solid foundations necessary to support it. Well done on the PR front - but I am somewhat disappointed to see that this initiative currently circumvents real Business entrepreneurs and seems very selective in its agenda. Davey

  • Davey Lee Goode
    October 24, 2013 - 23:33

    If you want new ideas, then go to new sources and knock on the door or pick up the phone and call someone who actually has them. Strategy is ondeed a good word but its meaning less if its a poor one. Here's an idea for getting connected. It may be a good idea to knock on the door or pick up the phone to someone who actually moved their manufacturing and export small business here fairly recently. Just maybe that would be relevant and offer some insight into that. Uhm! "Greasy Groove"?. The chamber is exploding and doing what exactly? Handing out prizes based on very little thought or fact and holding dinner party's? Let's get this straight, the people of Amherst deserve great representation and good honest facts to base their decisions on. Great leadership and innovation brings great results - frankly that's not what I see demonstrated here in these articles. I have had experience and exposure to these issues all my life and there us a better way. I will continue to fight for good business initiatives and respect committees formed of with right people for the right reason - it's what people deserve. Yours disappointedly, Davey