Economic task force formed

Harry Sullivan
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A task force is being created by the Truro and Colchester Chamber of Commerce in an effort to form a collaborative unit for regional economic development.
The idea was born during an economic summit Thursday morning at the Dalhousie Agricultural Campus in Bible Hill.

Chamber president Mike Michaud said the concept is to either revamp or replace the Colchester Regional Development Agency, which has lost municipal funding and whose future is currently in the air.

One of the most important things that came out of the meeting, which drew approximately 45 participants Michaud said, is a consensus that the three municipalities of Truro, Colchester County and Stewiacke and the First Nation community of Millbrook must work hand-in-hand towards future economic development for the region.

"The biggest objective today from the chamber's standpoint is the fact that we're the voice of 440 members. Because all of those members didn't show up today doesn't mean they don't care," he said.

"This isn't about just Truro, this isn't about Colchester County, it's not about Stewiacke, it's not about Tatamagouche, it's about the fact that we can't just promote small pockets anymore. We have to promote one large area (consisting of a total population of 52,000 people).

"There's a lot of tax money that goes into that. It isn't just the business owners that should be concerned about what goes on with CoRDA, it's the fact we're dealing with immigration issues, we're dealing with a lot of areas. And if we're going to have two different entities there and try and do the same job we're going to be competing with each other," Michaud said.

"You know we're a small fish in Nova Scotia. We can't go out on our own and try and do these things."

The task force, which will be made up of 12 individuals from the business community, the chamber and CoRDA, expects to hold its first meeting next week to begin planning for a more formal, multi-municipal business summit in September.

"We're not saying that they have to stay with the exact CoRDA model. We need to take some of the existing infrastructure and we need co-operation between the three municipalities and the three governments," he said.

"And if the three come together, they will have no backlash from the chamber."

And Michaud believes if the three municipalities can proceed as one economic development entity, then provincial funding designated for the new Regional Enterprise Networks that are to be set up (and which Colchester has said it will not be involved in) could still be forthcoming.

"We feel if the joint co-operation occurs, we will still have access to the money from the provincial government," he said.

Organizations: Colchester Regional Development Agency, Regional Enterprise Networks

Geographic location: Colchester County, Stewiacke, Millbrook Tatamagouche Nova Scotia

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