More than 250 people viewed the 12th annual Leeds Grenville Economic Development Summit held recently.

“With this being our first-ever virtual summit, we are thrilled with the turnout and positive feedback we received,” said Ann Weir, Economic Development Manager for the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville.

“It’s a testament to the strong local support for our business community and how many people want to help strengthen the region," she said.

The Counties Economic Development Office hosts the event each year in partnership with Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes MP Michael Barrett, MPP Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, the 1000 Islands, Valley Heartland and Grenville Community Futures Development Corporations, and the Eastern Workforce Innovation Board.

The year's live webcast featured a keynote address by the Honourable Vic Fedeli, Ontario Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade. Minister Fedeli’s presentation outlined the province's navigation of the pandemic and its plans for growth and renewal.

“It’s what we call Ontario spirit,” Minister Fedeli said of the Ontario Together Fund. Two area companies, 3M Canada and Greenfield Global, answered the call to make products and grow Ontario's domestic supply chain in the fight against COVID-19..

“That’s a great story for this region,” Minister Fedeli said. The 'Ontario Made' initiative has also had a “remarkable response” with 1,550 manufacturers registered and more than 6,000 Ontario Made products, including Kemptville’s Best Adirondack Chair Company, he added.

Dr. Trevin Stratton, Chief Economist and Vice-President of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, gave a global and national snapshot of the economy. He outlined a “K-shaped recovery” where some sectors are already recovering while others will be slower to rebound.

"Its very hard to forecast because the situation is so fluid," he said, adding what is needed are ways to help bridge businesses and Canadians until there is a vaccine. It will be a weak winter, he noted.

"Over the next six months you really need to focus on supporting the businesses that exist in your communities, helping them survive," he said. “The second half of next year is really when we will be able to start the economic recovery process,” Dr. Stratton said.

Lisa Severson and Jim Pine of the Eastern Ontario Regional Network gave an update on Eastern Ontario’s connectivity. Ms. Weir provided a regional economic development update.

The afternoon portion of the agenda was interactive chat room sessions focused on the regional economic development priorities in Leeds Grenville.

Summit feedback has been positive. On Dr. Stratton's session, a viewer commented: "He was absolutely brilliant. Clear, concise and had excellent clarity in his presentation." When asked if the summit was valuable another attendee remarked: "It had incredible content and informative info. It was great except I missed the in-person feeling. Essential that it happened even though remotely."

Video recordings of the event will be available online soon.

Plans are already underway for the next Summit scheduled for Friday, November 19, 2021. Mark your calendars!