KEMPTVILLE - The 11th Annual Leeds Grenville Economic Development Summit featuring area innovators and new technology drew a capacity crowd.

The Summit sold out for the fourth consecutive year attracting 222 business, government, not-for-profit and support service representatives from throughout the region and across the border.

“Whether you are a small or large business, to be competitive in the global marketplace we need to be strategic and open to new technologies," said United Counties Warden Pat Sayeau.

Ann Weir, Manager of the Leeds Grenville Economic Development Office, said the goal was to share technology advances in manufacturing, warehousing, along with transportation and logistics.

“While Industry 4.0 can be focused on manufacturing, it can apply to many other sectors. We are encouraging local businesses to be open to the adaptation of new technologies,” she said, noting there are funding programs available to help with the transition.

The Counties Economic Development Office hosts the event 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.

"There were good speakers and overall great information," said David Sheldon, owner of SellingWorx Plus Inc. in Portland. It was his first time to the conference.

A highlight of the day was a keynote address from the Honourable Prabmeet Sarkaria, Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction. The Minister revealed Ontario’s key initiatives to remove regulatory roadblocks to help small business reduce costs.

The second keynote address from Giant Tiger Distribution Centre officials Mike Quinn, John Hubbard and James Johnstone earned applause. The trio outlined how they meet challenges and adapted technologies when launching the state-of-the-art Johnstown facility.

Ms. Weir presented some of the results from the new Leeds Grenville Business Retention and Expansion Report . After surveying 300 company owners and top officials, the Business Retention and Expansion (BR+E) team found 85% of businesses rate support from other local businesses as very important and 84% said municipal support is essential.

Lisa Severson, of the Eastern Ontario Regional Network (EORN) provided an update on Eastern Ontario’s regional digital strategy. She outlined how $213-million in funding will improve cell service regionally by building on the new broadband infrastructure.

The Employment + Education Centre CareerLabsVR (Virtual Reality) session and simulation showed employers and job seekers how they can be better educated and empowered in making career choices that lead to higher employee retention rates.

The day also featured an update from North Grenville’s JAE Automation President Eric Martin. It ended with break-out sessions on available funding options for municipalities and employers. Learn more about Funding Programs and Incentives .

The 2019 Summit Presentations and Slides are now available. You can view them here . For more Summit coverage see the Media Release.

Next year's Summit is on November 20, 2020. Follow the 2020 Summit page for updates. Save the Date for 2020!