Kemptville – For the second year in a row, the annual Leeds Grenville Economic Development Summit had a sell-out crowd on Friday.
Over 200 business leaders, not-for-profit organizations and government representatives from throughout the area and neighbouring counties filled the North Grenville Municipal Centre hall for the 9th annual summit focusing on “Collaborating in a Global Marketplace.”
The arrival of the fourth industrial revolution, known as Industry 4.0, was the hot topic from keynote speaker Pierre Cléroux, Vice President and Chief Economist with the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC). Mr. Cléroux discussed whether Canadian entrepreneurs are ready and if not, what they should do to prepare.
“While Canada is off to a good start, only 3% of Canadian entrepreneurs have fully implemented Industry 4.0 into their business at a time when competitors in the U.S., Europe and Asia are moving full steam ahead,” Mr. Cléroux told the capacity crowd.
“Industry 4.0 allows manufacturers to improve their efficiency, create more personalized products and react more quickly to customer needs than ever before,” he said while unveiling a study on digital technologies transforming the manufacturing landscape.
Another top speaker was Carey Bidtnes, of the Kingston Economic Development Corporation. She outlined the Feihe International Inc. Canadian Project, a major $225-million investment to produce infant formula in Kingston while providing opportunities to related sectors throughout Eastern Ontario.
The yearly summit is hosted by the Leeds Grenville Economic Development Department in partnership with Gord Brown, MP Leeds-Grenville, 1000 Islands and Rideau Lakes, Steve Clark, MPP for Leeds-Grenville, along with the 1000 Islands, Valley Heartland and Grenville Community Futures Development Corporations and the 1000 Islands Region Workforce Development Board.
Featured speaker Huy Thai, of the Ontario Investment Office with the Ministry of Economic Development and Growth, discussed being investment ready and how to secure new investment projects. Ellen Barton, Human Resource Leader with Procter & Gamble, and Robert Nolan, Brockville’s Director of Economic Development, presented on how they are working on reducing the impact of the plant’s closure in 2020.
Attendees also heard informative updates from Anne Barr, owner of Nana B’s Bakery in Merrickville, and Dave Leonard, of Cardinal Health in Gananoque. Nana B’s won Ontario’s Best Butter Tart in the all-Ontario ingredient category this past June. Cardinal Health, makers of defibrillation and ECG electrodes, obstetrics and neonatal devices,
continues to expand and enter new markets. Brian Carré, North Grenville’s CAO, and Édith Dumont, of the Eastern Ontario French Public School Board, gave an update on the Kemptville Campus and its new partnership.
“Leeds Grenville business and community members should be proud of the work they have done to create a diverse economy that is resilient,” said Ann Weir, Economic Development Manager with the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville and master of ceremonies of the event.
“We must evolve and continue to position ourselves in the global marketplace where we are seeing the implementation of digital technologies to gain efficiencies and competitiveness. The new Giant Tiger Distribution Centre is a great example of a business doing just that,” Ms. Weir said.
For the first time in its history, three people received the Bill Thake Memorial Award for Economic Development Leadership. Wendy Banks, creator of Wendy’s Country Market, Heather Howard, owner of FoxRun By-The-River Retirement Residence, and Gerald Tallman, founder and chair of the Tallman Group, were honoured for their outstanding and ongoing contributions to strengthen the Leeds Grenville economy.