That was the message from a quartet of Cumberland County businesspeople during an afternoon panel discussion that was part of a post-Ivany report exploration of the role business can play in ensuring a more prosperous future for the county.
“I’m a big believer in dreaming big,” PolyCello president and CEO Stephen Emmerson said during the panel discussion. “Don’t think about where you want to be next year, think about where you want your business to be in 10 or 20 years then work your way back.”
The session was organized by Cumberland County Life, a group of Amherst businesspeople who came together last year in response to the Ivany Report. It was co-sponsored by Amherst and the Municipality of Cumberland and featured a cross-section of business owners and entrepreneurs.
Emmerson’s company has been one of Cumberland County’s biggest success stories with more than 300 employees shipping products around the globe.
When asked why his business has remained in Cumberland County, Emmerson said it’s because of its workforce, who take pride in their work and care about the company and the community.
Chuck Cartmill, who grew C-Vision and LED Roadway from just a single employee to more than 100, said it’s important to set big goals and be prepared for the pitfalls along the way.
“There are going to be roadblocks, but you have to keep working to find you way around them,” said Cartmill, whose LED road fixtures are sold around the world.
Leslie Wilson of Ski Wentworth the Wilson Group of Companies said attitude is huge. She said it’s easy to look fondly at other areas, but developing an appreciation of what’s here is important.
James Surrette of Surrette Battery in Springhill said focusing on quality is important as is always pushing forward.
“You can’t rest on your laurels,” said Surrette.
Surrett said it could be more cost-effective to manufacture his product elsewhere, but he’s loyal to Springhill and to Nova Scotia and his customers have been loyal to him.
If there’s one thing business needs to do, he said, it’s doing a better job of sharing their success stories.
A determination to do something different is something Danny Graham of Engage Nova Scotia has been hearing a lot across Nova Scotia.
Engage Nova Scotia started in 2012 as a not-for-profit citizen-led organization to mobilize people to work together toward a better future.
“Ideas that are innovative, self-reliant and progressive are already in our communities and organization such as ours can partner with local organizations to bring together the best ideas that will help make it happen,” Graham said.
Graham said people are ready to take action. It’s the first time they’ve been asked to become involved and are ready for change.
“The future is in our hands, we just have to become more active,” Graham said. “It’s particularly exciting that in Amherst it’s being led by the business community. We’re really excited with the group that has come together around this idea in this community.”