The Village of Merrickville-Wolford no longer has an Economic Development Officer (EDO). Jeff Mcnamee was hired as the Village’s first ever EDO in October, 2018. This position was made possible by a Rural Economic Development (RED) grant from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA). The $98,000 grant covered roughly half the salary of a full-time EDO for two years, as well as other economic development initiatives.
CAO Doug Robertson told the gallery at the last council meeting that Jeff had resigned two weeks ago, after resident Dawn Dawson asked for an update on the progress of the EDO. “Is there a report as to what he has accomplished?” Dawn asked council. “What is he looking into?”
Mayor Doug Struthers stated that Jeff was asked to provide a report to council; however, one was never received. “So, we’re just kind of left hanging, as far as what we spent for this man to have this job, and he’s now resigned and we get nothing from him,” Dawn observed.
“That is an accurate observation, yes,” Mayor Struthers said.
Doug Robertson says that, although there was never an official report presented to council, he was well aware of Jeff’s progress while he was employed with the Municipality. “As with any employer/employee relationship, we had regular discussions about his productivity”, he added.
Doug also says that Jeff’s resignation was a personal decision, and there were no other issues surrounding his departure. “I wish him well,” Doug said. “He’s a really good guy.”
As the position of EDO is partially financed by the RED grant from OMAFRA, Doug says he is currently looking into the terms of the contract and the impact of Jeff’s departure on the grant. As a large part of the time frame for the grant has now passed, Doug is currently in talks with OMAFRA to see if it can be extended past the March, 2020 deadline. “We are re-evaluating the circumstances to see what our options are,” he says.