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McClelland sees big things for region economically
AMHERST – The Cumberland Business Connector’s first CEO feels it’s time to put words into action when it comes to the area’s economic future.
Jonathan McClelland was recently hired to lead the business connector and he arrives into the job optimistic of Cumberland County’s enormous potential.
“This area has huge potential. Part of that potential is our location between two of the largest cities in the Maritimes. There is economic development that will happen by default because of that location, something Yarmouth or Sydney won’t see,” McClelland said in an interview with the Amherst News prior to the organization’s first annual meeting on Tuesday. “I also large potential in the land base that is here. Much if it is used for blueberries, but I see other opportunities for agriculture.”
McClelland comes to the Cumberland Business Connector after more than a decade as an entrepreneur. He also worked for the Western Valley Development Authority and with the Nova Scotia Co-operative Council.
McClelland said making connections will be the key phrase for the organization that was originally created by area business people following the Ivany Report several years ago. From there, a small group of businesspeople began meeting to discuss how Ivany's recommendations could be implemented in Amherst and Cumberland County. With the help of Engage Nova Scotia, members of the business community were brought together in a brain-storming session at Emmerson Packaging.
McClelland’s hiring takes that process to the next level.
“The business community felt there needed to be an organization that could direct businesses to resources to meet their needs. It could be something as simple as working with the community college if there’s a skill set that business is looking for,” he said. “Right now there’s a lot of work being done to expand by the Maritime beef industry to increase the beef herd. How does Cumberland County maximize that opportunity? Those are some of the things I see our organization doing.”
The CEO will be involved in things like strategic planning and working with businesses and tourist operators on how to increase tourism in the county and perhaps expand into the winter season through the area’s growing network of trails.
He also sees enormous potential along the Fundy Shore through the Cliffs of Fundy geopark project. He said people don’t want to come just to see something, they want to experience it as well.
“For economic development to be successful we have to work with what we’ve got. People don’t come to Cumberland County for the casinos or the opera, they come because of the beaches and the geology. We can build on those assets we have,” he said.
McClelland said he will take time to go through the various economic development reports that have been completed and meet with various industry leaders in agriculture and business.
He also wants to help develop a positive can-do attitude across the county. He believes positivity is something business looks for when considering where to establish itself.
For economic development to be successful we have to work with what we’ve got. People don’t come to Cumberland County for the casinos or the opera, they come because of the beaches and the geology. We can build on those assets we have.
Jonathan McClelland, first CEO of the Cumberland Business Connector