by Deron Johnston
On Friday, April 28, the Municipality of North Grenville hosted its 8th annual North Grenville Economic Development Appreciation Breakfast at the Municipal Centre. The theme for the breakfast was “Creating a prosperous future together”, and it was attended by approximately 200 people.
After the actual buffet breakfast itself, the master of ceremonies, North Grenville Councillor Donovan Arnaud (who is the chair of Planning and Development), kicked things off. MP Gord Brown and MPP Steve Clark were on hand, and they were both invited to the stage to welcome everyone and to praise the work of the North Grenville Economic Development Department (NGED).
NGED officer Teri Devine took the stage and spoke about the many programming efforts of NGED and the specific results from those efforts. Among other topics, Teri gave a progress report on current development projects around North Grenville and mentioned that there are a number of future projects that are in the works, but haven’t been confirmed yet. She also added in some information about present and future planning activities.
The keynote speaker for the morning was Kemptville resident Katie Nolan, who works for the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs [OMAFRA]. Always an engaging speaker, Katie drew on the theme of the event and pointed out that: “no single entity bears the sole responsibility for creating prosperity”. She noted that the NGED has used all of the major programs that OMAFRA has available for municipalities, and has shown results above provincial and federal economic development levels.
During North Grenville CAO Brian Carre’s time at the microphone, he spoke about the Kemptville College project and stated that: “our commitment to renew Kemptville College remains unchanged”. Brian used data from a recent North Grenville Times survey on the future of the former Kemptville College during his speech to demonstrate how supportive residents are about acquiring the former Kemptville College. He reported that, since 2014, the Municipality continues to meet with a number of potential partners, including those in the post secondary education, private business and agricultural sectors.
The highlight of the breakfast was saved until the end of the program. In 2015, NGED decided to recognize the contributions of Harry Pratt by posthumously creating an award in his name. For this year’s presentation, the two previous winners, Rob Noseworthy and Gerald Tallman, were asked to join MP Brown, MPP Clark, Mayor David Gordon, Councillor Arnaud, CAO Carre and Harry’s wife, Sheila Pratt, on stage to present the Harry Pratt Ambassador of the Year award to this year’s winner, Dermid O’Farrell of O’Farrell Financial. The room of attendees rose in applause to honour the worthy recipient. Dermid and his wife Donna Lee have not only built a strong, prosperous business with multiple locations in Eastern Ontario, but are also very generous contributors to North Grenville both in time and money.
It was a fine event, recognizing not only the contributions of the NGED and municipal staff, but also the business people, community builders and volunteers who have worked together to produce very positive economic results for North Grenville. If even more people began working together, it makes you wonder what more could be accomplished.