About the Western Regional Enterprise Network
The Regional Enterprise Networks are Nova Scotia’s response to an identified need to foster rural and regional economic development.
- Expanding economic success will result from engaging people and existing businesses,
- The Western Region needs to be prepared for investment opportunities,
- A lens of innovation and entrepreneurship will guide all Western REN actions,
- The Western REN brings value through networking with existing economic development efforts,
- Increasing immigration is an important part of solutions to workforce issues, and
- Western Nova Scotia needs a strong and vibrant economic development service delivery model.
The values of the Western REN strategy are derived from what we’ve heard reflected through our partners, stakeholders, and community members.
- People are the Western REN’s core strength: innovative and committed to success;
- Diversity is important to sustainability: culturally, geographically, and economically;
- Creativity drives entrepreneurship and innovation: authentic and resilient businesses thrive;
- People value rural living: embracing the unique characteristics and strengths of rural lifestyles; and
- Partnerships are the key: collective planning and collaborative action will lead to greater success.
Early in 2014, six municipal units in Western Nova Scotia created the Western Regional Enterprise Network (Western REN), in response to recommendations from the Regional Development Authority Review Panel in late 2012.
The member municipalities and the province have named a nine-member board of directors to direct the core activities of one of the first RENs in Nova Scotia.
2017-2018 Business Plan
Next Board Meeting: Tuesday, June 12 2018, at the Town of Digby, 4:00pm.
Board of Directors:
Warner Comeau, Chair – Year 2 of a 3 year term (2nd term):
Warner Comeau is a native of Yarmouth Nova Scotia. A graduate of Acadia University Majoring in Economics, he spent 28 years as a General Insurance Broker, and was President of Independent Insurance Brokers Incorporated from 2000-2009. During his insurance career he served on several Insurance Company advisory boards and was Treasurer of the Insurance Brokers Association of NS. Warner has served on several Non-profit Boards, both with a community and a business focus. He currently manages his investment holding company.
Allister Surette, Vice-Chair – Year 1 of a 3 year term (2nd term):
Allister Surette has been the President and Vice-chancellor of Universite Sainte-Anne since July 2011 and was an elected member of the Nova Scotia Legislative Assembly for the constituency of Argyle from 1993 to 1998. He has been actively involved in a number of committees and organizations, notably Chair for the organizing committee of the World Acadian Congress in 2004 and past-Chair of the Francophone Economic Development Council of Nova Scotia, CDÉNÉ. Mr. Surette currently chairs the Council of Nova Scotia University Presidents and co-Chairs the Canadian Association of Francophone Colleges and Universities.
Dr. Michel Comeau – Year 3 of a 3 year term (2nd term):
Michel Comeau graduated with a Doctorate of Dental Surgery from Dalhousie University in 1998 and is the principal dentist at SouthWest Dental in Yarmouth and Meteghan. He also has a variety of experiences with local, provincial and international organizations and associations.
Craig LeBlanc – Year 2 of a 3 year term (2nd term):
Craig LeBlanc graduated from Saint Mary’s University with a Bachelor of Commerce and has been President of Cassa Office Plus since 2005. He has been a long term board member with CBDC Yarmouth and has gained an interest and passion for economic development through his experiences operating a business in the region.
David Saxton, FCA – Year 3 of a 3 year term (2nd term):
Dave Saxton is a chartered accountant, graduate of Saint Mary’s University, and a Fellow of the Nova Scotia Institute of Chartered Accountants. He is currently a financial advisor with Raymond James Ltd. in Yarmouth. Dave has been a member and past President of both the Yarmouth Rotary Club and Yarmouth YMCA and served on the Yarmouth Hospital Foundation Board, as a trustee of the Nova Scotia Health Employee’s Pension Plan and as a member of the Nova Scotia International Ferry Partnership. He is presently Vice-Chairman of the Nova Scotia Community College and a member of the Town of Yarmouth Police Advisory Board.
Angela Thurber – Year 3 of a 3 year term (2nd term):
Angela Thurber obtained level I, II, III of the Certified General Account of Canada certificate in 1996, a diploma in Business Administration Accounting from NSCC in 1997 and went on to obtain a certificate in Municipal Government in 2005 from Dalhousie University. Angela was elected as municipal Councillor in the Digby area from 2004-2008 and she has been the Chief Financial Officer for the Annapolis Basin Conference Centre since 2000. Angela has also served on many committees and currently serves on the Police Advisory Board as a Provincial Representative and on the Community Notification Board as a Citizen Representative.
Clark Sigfridson – Year 2 of a 3 year term (2nd term):
Clark Sigfridson was born and raised in New England and has been living in Yarmouth for nearly eight years. He obtained a diploma in Business Administration from the Nova Scotia Community College in 2010 and graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce in Finance from Saint Mary’s University in 2012. He is the owner of C.S. Elliot Trading Company and Café by Clark in Yarmouth and has a broad range of experiences in the USA, Sweden and Canada.
Ronald Smith, ICD.D, FCPA, FCA – Year 1 of a 3 year term (2nd term):
Ron Smith is an independent director with many years of experience in the financial, telecom and energy sectors. He served as CFO of Maritime Tel & Tel for 12 years and then CFO of Emera and Nova Scotia Power for 4 years before his retirement in 2004. Ron served for 10 years on the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and currently chairs the trustee board of the Public Service Superannuation Fund in Nova Scotia. He also serves on the board of Alamos Gold Inc., Acadia University’s Board of Governors where he was Chair from 2004 to 2009, and on the board of Nova Scotia Business Inc. where he stood in as Interim CEO from 2013 to early 2015.
David Arenburg – Year 1 of a 3 year term (2nd term):
David Arenburg graduated from Acadia University in 1981 with a Bachelor of Arts. Since 1986 he has been the President of Adcor Group of Companies which owns and operates Tim Hortons franchises in Yarmouth, Barrington and Shelburne. He has served on a number of professional and community boards, such as Nova Scotia Business Inc. and the Yarmouth Hospital Foundation.
Benjamin Shearer – Year 1 of a 3 year term (1st term):
Educated at Universities in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, Benjamin articled with the Halifax law firm of Blois, Nickerson & Bryson. Benjamin, who is originally from the Truro area, has moved with his family to the Barrington area and is practicing in both the firm’s Barrington and Liverpool offices.
Being a rural practioner, Benjamin runs a general practice with the notable exception of criminal law. He has a special interest in the fields of property, business, and estates. Benjamin is a member of many professional and legal associations regionally and nationally. He also serves as a board member within the local community whenever he can.
Jamie Symonds – Year 1 of a 3 year term (1st term):
Jamie grew up in Barrington and recently returned to Nova Scotia from Boston, MA.
Jamie obtained his Bachelor of Information Systems degree from St. Francis Xavier University in 2001, before leaving to start his career in the US. In the US, he worked as a Senior Systems Analyst with the Boston Police, worked for nearly a decade at Massachusetts General Hospital’s Laboratory of Computer Science, then onto an EHR start-up at Amazing Charts as a Senior Software Engineer.
In 2015, he obtained his master’s degree (Master of Liberal Arts in IT) from Harvard University. He continues to work remotely as a consultant for the Boston Regional Intelligence Center, and has had part-time teaching engagements with NSCC Burridge and Acadia University’s Jodrey School of Computer Science.
Misty Morrison – Year 1 of a 3 year term (1st term):
Misty R. Morrison is from Danvers in Digby County, NS. Misty was called to the Nova Scotia Bar in 2009 and has worked at Nova Scotia Legal Aid, as an Associate at Oliver Janson Law Inc. and is currently employed as a Crown Attorney with the Nova Scotia Public Prosecution Service. Misty has also worked as a Coordinator of Race Relations Cross Cultural Understanding and Human Rights as well as a substitute teacher in the education field. Misty volunteers as a Board Member on the Council on African Canadian Education and the Western Regional Enterprise Network.
Angélique LeBlanc, Chief Executive Officer:
Angélique has 15 years experience in the economic and business development sectors of Nova Scotia, along with 6 years of experience in teaching abroad. After returning to Canada, she worked as Manager of the CDÉNÉ Business Development and Entrepreneurship Centre at where she regularly worked in partnership with government representatives, private sector, and non-profit organizations. Angélique has recently completed an MBA through Université de Moncton.
Victoria Brooks, Economic Development Officer, BusinessNow Lead:
Victoria brings 20 years combined experience in municipal government administration (Deputy CAO Municipality of the District of Digby) and private sector operations/management experience to the team at Western REN. In addition, Victoria has served on various boards & committees related to public schools, local boards of trade and victims’ support. Victoria holds a Bachelor of Business Administration and National Advanced Certificate in Local Authority Administration which couple well in the BusinessNow position at Western REN.
Erika Rolston, Economic Development Officer, Communication Lead:
Erika, an inter-provincial immigrant from coastal BC, moved to Yarmouth in 2014. She has gained over 10 year’s experience in regional networking in rural communities, with non-profit and government sectors. Her communication and organizational strengths are a natural asset to the Western REN team.
Evan Nemeth, Economic Development Officer, Research Lead:
Evan studied Arts and Psychology in Nova Scotia and is completing his Masters in Applied Science at Saint Mary’s University. His educational and employment experiences in research and data analysis have proven the flexibility and understanding of complex issues required to support the work of the Western REN. He is currently a member of the Digby and Area Affordable and Supportive Housing Group.
Brenda LaGrandeur, Manager, Western REN Connector Program:
Brenda brings her proven abilities in project management and community and stakeholder engagement to the Western REN Connector Program. Her experience includes 8 years of Community Development with the Municipality of Argyle and 2 years as Communications and Professional Development Officer with a Provincial Association of Economic Development organizations in Ontario. Brenda is a proud bilingual Acadian and applies her networking and organizational strengths to creating a robust regional Connector Program.
Gino Thibeault, Western REN Immigration Lead:
An accomplished businessman, Gino’s experiences range from owning his own business to financial services to resort and park management. His experience gives him a good understanding of the labour needs of the private sector. These insights help Gino in his work to recruit more regional businesses to become designated under the Atlantic Immigration Pilot. Originating from New Brunswick and fully bilingual, Gino volunteers extensively for the Philae Shriner’s events in support of children’s hospitals.
Fiscal Year 2017-2018 Board Meeting Schedule (4:00pm start time)
|Tuesday, April 4, 2017||Municipality of Clare Office|
|Tuesday, June 13, 2017||Municipality of Barrington Office|
|AGM Thursday, June 22, 2017||Municipality of Barrington Multipurpose Room|
|Tuesday, August 8, 2017||Municipality of Yarmouth Office|
|Tuesday, October 10, 2017||Municipality of Digby Office|
|Tuesday, November 14, 2017||Municipality of Argyle Office|
|Tuesday, December 12, 2017||TBD|
|Tuesday, February 13, 2018||Town of Yarmouth Office|