The Western REN team recently attended Partners for Progress, the 2017 Nova Scotia Regional Enterprise Network Conference at the MacAulay Conference Centre in Baddeck.
Over 140 people attended from all over Nova Scotia, including people from local governments, provincial and federal agencies involved in economic development, and of course our partners from other RENs across Nova Scotia.
Highlighted projects from each REN underscore the collective impact of collaboration – especially in rural areas of the province. Our work is designed to make regional Nova Scotia a more attractive place for investment. Participants explored new opportunities to partner across sectors and between geographies.
The Western Regional Enterprise Network (Western REN) is 1 of 5 Regional Enterprise Networks (RENs) in Nova Scotia. RENs provide regional economic leadership and help develop regional economic strategies, while supporting small, local businesses. RENs bring together business communities, the province, municipalities and other groups involved in economic development.
The Regional Enterprise Networks connect resources and fill gaps – not duplicate work. Our shared mission is “to guide and navigate regional economic development”.
The RENs also share core activities. RENs proactively align with government strategies and form partnerships with regional stakeholders, all in support of local business growth and new investments. The trick is effective partnering and aligning goals, especially in rural regions where resources are scarce. This should lead to less overlap and fewer gaps.
The RENs have a focused scope of what work we do. How we do the work is defined by stakeholders who know the region best. The Western REN’s work is mapped out in our Western Regional Strategic Plan (available at www.westernren.ca/knowledge-suite/).
The Western REN was the first to implement its Regional Economic Development Strategy. Now in the second year of our three-year plan, our strategic themes are: Business Retention &; Expansion, Investment Readiness, and Innovative Partnerships & Communications.
We provide important information on business issues – challenges faced, lessons learned, and opportunities for growth. This work also develops our relationship with business owners and economic development partners; who are learning the value of working with us.
By planning and partnering regionally, we are preparing the ground to ensure Investment Attraction efforts bear fruit. A regional approach increases our capacity to respond effectively to investment opportunities, by accessing a greater pool of people, infrastructure, and community assets.
We understand that developing relationships is not simply a warm and fuzzy activity. Those relationships – and building the trust – are very real and crucial components to a vibrant and resilient regional economy.