September 5 & 6, 2018 Digby, Nova Scotia.

A facilitated gathering of Provincial and Local partners and stakeholders of the Regional Enterprise Networks across Nova Scotia.

Purpose and Outcomes:

  1. To focus on breaking down silos, shaking off limiting beliefs, and moving towards thinking and acting regionally
  2. To honestly examine lessons learned and identify fundamental questions facing the RENs
  3. To invigorate and inspire continued efforts to lead change across Nova Scotia


  • Welcome and Opening Remarks
  • Framing
  • Check-in
  • 20 x 20 Speakers
  • Break & Prize Draw
  • Collective Conversations – where are we now?
  • Lunch & Prize Draw
  • Keynote: Creative Island by Morgan Murray
  • Open Space Breakouts
  • Closing & Prize Draw

Welcome and Opening Remarks

  • Angélique LeBlanc, CEO Western REN
    Acknowledge First Nations territory
    Welcome and thank people to the day
  • Update from REN CEOs by video
    Each CEO speaks to the value of the REN model, challenges and successes in their regions
  • Kelliann Dean, Deputy Minister Municipal Affairs
    Importance of municipal participation in regional development
  • Ben Cleveland, Mayor Town of Digby
    Welcome to Digby, pleased with the REN model functioning in Western NS
  • Tim Merry & Tuesday Ryan-Hart
    Acknowledge limiting thoughts, question assumptions, be aware of your impact on the conversation, be honest, be open

Check in

What is your best experience of regional collaboration getting positive results?

Uncommon Partners  –  Collaboration  –  Working across Regions  –  Don’t chase the money

  • Partnerships and success – Climate Study by neighbouring CBDCs, in support of agriculture and new agriculture developments have taken place
  • Pan provincial efforts – Atlantic Immigration Pilot in Halifax, Cape Breton, and Western region working towards common goal of population growth
  • Focus on a hub – Digby Literacy includes multiple partners with common education goals.
  • Pool our resources – Nova Scotia Works led to four regional non-profits combining for delivery of improved quality services

20 x 20 Speakers (hyperlinks to each PPT)

Tim Merry works to lead breakthrough change with coaching, training, keynote speaking, engagement facilitation, and systems change.Tuesday Ryan-Hart helps diverse organizations and communities with shared interests re-frame commonly-held assumptions and persistent issues. Together, Tim and Tuesday drew on their extensive, international experience and provided tips for effective, focused, significant change.

Emily Pond is the acting Director of Governance and Advisory Services with Nova Scotia’s Department of Municipal Affairs. Emily spoke about her experiences working in efforts that cross inter-municipal and cross-regional boundaries. She pointed to the areas where collaboration makes the most sense: revenue-sharing, infrastructure, land-use planning, and economic development. The RENs are an active and effective example of this form of collaboration.

Develop Nova Scotia has a mandate to build great places across the province. Jennifer Angel, President & CEO of Develop NS, leads the team in development of high potential property and infrastructure. Economic development has many moving parts and ‘placemaking’ is an important factor for sustainable development. Placemaking makes use of underutilized space to enhance an area’s experience at a human scale thus making a more attractive place to live – and work. This is a critical factor in the need to grow Nova Scotia’s population and skilled work force.

As a Regional Business Development Director with Nova Scotia Business Inc (NSBI), Todd Coombs has become adept at solving complex business challenges, and he understands that collaboration is the key to long term success. Regarding Nova Scotia’s long-standing workforce challenge, Todd spoke beyond the need to equate growth with hiring more staff. He spoke of innovation and improvements in productivity – and the critical importance of embracing change.

The Business Education Council is a partnership between the Provincial Education ministries and the private sector. By highlighting opportunities and using understanding to overcome barriers between youth and employers, the BEC hopes to attach more youth to the Nova Scotian labour force. AJ Bird is an entrepreneur and First Nations woman. As a member of the BEC, she spoke about ways to use partnerships to prepare the students of the day for the work opportunities of tomorrow.

Liaison and Oversight Committee Chair, Pam Mood, spoke to the components of success that are working for the Western REN. She highlighted the benefits of the effort to build trust and maintain a ‘hands off’ approach to economic development.

Where are we now?

Because the RENs are designed as a collaborative model, the responses to Round 1 and Round 2 questions built on one another. The results of the first two rounds have been compiled below.

Round 1: What is the reality facing the RENs now?

Round 2: What could regional collaboration look like in 5 years’ time?

  • All REN activity happening through a lens of province-wide benefit, with no confusion about roles (chambers, RENs, NSBI, etc).
  • Vocal champions from both public and private sector.
  • Harmonized/standardized REN operations (not strategies) including that REN Boards are led by experts vs elected officials.
  • RENs working well with other regional economic development models.
  • Expanded REN model like Cape Breton or Halifax Partnerships for financial stability.
  • REN and provincial offices aligned and RENs claim ownership of the asset mapping across the province.
  • Municipal elected officials educated on regional collaboration and REN model and resultant REN strategies have buy in from top down and bottom up.
  • Common collaboration between RENs, public partners, private sector partners, industry, academia.
  • “Silos” no longer a theme at gatherings and geographic boundaries no longer considered barriers.

Round 3: What are your three best big ideas?

Strategy & Commitment between Province & RENs

  • Long-term strategy and funding commitments by province and RENs, using succinct action plans.
  • Develop key performance indicators based on regional objectives and create opportunities for municipal EDO secondment.
  • Municipal Modernization to include the RENs as a critical component of their mandate and success.


  • Every citizen agrees to top priorities for Nova Scotia. Use a petition style commitment to gather signatures online.

Communication Strategy

  • Development of a provincial REN communications strategy, RENs collaborating to form an integrated province-wide promotion.
    • Communication, via social media, of REN work, success, priorities to all (communities, citizens, municipalities).
    • Labour Market Info – DASHBOARDS (regional-based townfolio).
    • Common communication/brand strategies for the RENs and money.

Increase Participation

  • Private Sector: Increase private sector participation.
  • Private Sector: Entrepreneurship incubator model led by RENs and private sector – use Municipal assets (buildings) to support business.
  • Post-Secondary Education / Industry: Development of an engagement strategy between REN and post secondary education industry liaison offices.
  • Sectors/Clusters/Consortiums: Creating partnerships around sectors/clusters/consortiums.
  • Young People: Create 1st opportunity for meaningful intergenerational interaction (i.e. Youth Business Symposium).
  • Young People: Product development lab for youth.


  • Educate key stakeholders (i.e. municipal leaders, funding partners) on governance, role, mandate clarification.
  • Schedule “coffee house” sessions open to the public and Council to communicate and educate – to improve Municipal Relations / REN
  • Provincial powerpoint presentation focused on educating all citizens on “What is a REN?”


  • Placemaking: Making our communities places people want to stay.
  • Placemaking: Interactive REN platform (not static; inward & outward facing).
  • Experience: Taking old traditions/culture and create new ways (i.e. moose hunting to moose photography) – “ecotourism experience”.


  • Opportunities: Better coordination of similar services and programs amongst RENs and stakeholders.
  • Opportunities: Support of projects of significance that promote important infrastructure/development/investment (i.e. pipeline, internet, cannabis).
  • Develop shared strategy for mobilizing opportunities – business and community.
  • Immigration: Targeted immigration/migration strategy. Best positions we need filled – removing barriers.
  • Supple Chain Database: Provincial supply chain database.
  • Structure to Support: Structured Association of REN CEOs!
  • Broadband: Map our broadband gap and bring local public and private sector to discuss coverage solutions.
  • Broadband: Open regional collaboration by creating provincial teams (i.e. broadband).
  • Broadband: Community delivered 1gig+ broadband for economic growth and equity.

Specific Efforts

  • Red Tape Reduction: Create a red tape reduction program at the REN level connect businesses with regulators/government to facilitate growth.
  • Population Growth: Contribute to population growth by working with our employers to attract talent.
  • Capacity Building: Create opportunities, such as developing programs, creating spaces to increase skills capacity of the community.
  • Disrupt Education: Disrupt education system.

Human-Centered RENs

  • Human (client-centered RENs/ED culture (who do we serve?)
  • Program delivery model (accessible and user-friendly).
  • Make community decisions, not municipal decisions.

Keynote: Creative Island by Morgan Murray

“The inventor…looks upon the world and is not contended with things as they are. He wants to improve whatever he sees, he wants to benefit the world; he is haunted by an idea. The spirit of invention possesses him, seeking materialization.” ~ Alexander Graham Bell

Creative courage is the willingness to work towards your dreams and goals – even if you’re afraid – even if it’s completely new – even if others do not understand. Creative courage leads to new perspectives, new partnerships, and even more new ideas.

Open Space Breakouts


Prizes Donated by:

Gift Basket: 2lbs ground coffee, branded mug, coaster

Gift basket: Honey, candles, lip balm

Gift basket: Craft beer, branded glass, coaster

12 pack assorted flavour energy bars

2 prizes: 10 lbs live lobster

5 lbs frozen scallops