Panel discussion discusses wide range of ideas for Amherst
What will it take to make Amherst more attractive to businesses and new residents?
© Andrew Wagstaff - cumberlandnewsnow
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 Amherst and Area Chamber of Commerce, 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.”