Despite the weather, SCOR Economic Development Corporation’s AGM had a full house in Tillsonburg Thursday.
SCOR EDC is municipally owned economic development corporation that has been in operation since late fall of 2010. Executive position elections were filled at the AGM – Tillsonburg Mayor John Lessif was elected for a second term to the chair, Jim Oliver as vice-chair for a second term, with Chuck Hall elected also for a second term as treasurer.
The past year the corporation completed a strategic update and they talked about their new areas of focus and strategies moving forward. The corporation will focus efforts on three areas: infrastructure supporting economic development, human capital in support of economic development and third, sector development with a focus on agriculture, food and food processing.
“These are the areas which make the most impact and will be concentrating our efforts on” stated John Lessif, SCOR EDC chair, in a media release. “We will also continue our role as advocates for rural and small urban Ontario with these three strategies in mind. Going through the strategic update was a good exercise for the corporation and we are very grateful to have the support of the two Workforce Boards in our region assisting us along the way. Their partnership has been invaluable.
“This year, our fourth has not been one without its challenges," said Lessif. "These have been embraced by the Board. We will continue to move SCOR EDC forward with the role we have in the Sand Plains region with growing employment, being a strong voice for rural and small urban municipalities on issues impacting their economy through advocacy with many government ministries.”
“I think the size of the crowd alone," said vice-chair Jim Oliver, "despite the weather conditions, speaks to the value of SCOR EDC and the work it does. This past year we had challenges and a number of changes but we were able to keep our focus and move forward. Every organization goes through growing pains, the trick is to learn and do better. I think we have done, just that.”
Diana Jedig of the Ontario Association of Community Futures Development Corporations gave a detailed report about the Sand Plains Community Development Fund. The fund, which is based on a patient pay-back loan model, continues to circulate dollars in the region. This fund has accomplished what it set out to do, which was find a way to transition and economy that was largely focused on tobacco and tobacco production and to support diversification of the region through its $15 million investment. The fund creation was spearheaded and developed by the SCOR mayors, with the support of MP Joe Preston, MP Diane Finlay, Agriculture and AgriFood Canada, and the five regional CFDCs, who administered the funds. There is over $2 million of repaid capital and interest available to be loaned to regional businesses.
Guest speaker at the AGM was Dr. David Sparling, Professor of Operations Management and the chair in Agri-Food Innovation at the Ivey Business School. Sparling had the crowd’s attention with his presentation on agriculture and its effects on the economy. Sparling is also faculty director for the Cultivate Strategic Agricultural Leadership program presented by Farm Credit Canada and for the Syngenta Establishing Roots African Leadership program. Before joining Ivey, he was an Associate Dean at the University of Guelph and Executive Director of the Institute of Agri-Food Policy Innovation.