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Economic Development eNews | November 22, 2022

Economic Development Summit

Thake Award recognizes Leaders

KEMPTVILLE - Long-serving community leaders Susan Warren and Dermid O’Farrell are this year’s recipients of the Bill Thake Memorial Economic Development Leadership Award.

The winners were announced at the 14th annual United Counties of Leeds and Grenville Economic Development Summit held at the North Grenville Municipal Centre last Friday, November 18th. Susan is a resident of the Township of Rideau Lakes. Dermid is from the Municipality of North Grenville.

“We are proud to honour them, along with our two remarkable nominees, for the level of volunteerism they demonstrate and the major contributions they continue to make,” said Warden Roger Haley.

The Bill Thake Memorial Award, also called the Warden’s Award, has been presented for the past 12 years to community volunteers showing economic leadership in Leeds Grenville.

Co-winner Susan (Sue) Warren works tirelessly to make the rich history and genealogy of Rideau Lakes accessible to everyone interested in ancestry. For more than 42 years, she has volunteered her time protecting documents and archives while promoting the township’s historical significance through books and films. Sue is at the forefront of the digitization movement ensuring future generations have online access to archives.

Co-winner Dermid O’Farrell is a passionate community leader. President and Managing Partner of O'Farrell Financial Services Inc., Dermid has also been an active volunteer for more than 25 years. He is past president of the Kemptville District Hospital Foundation, was on the Ryan's Well Board of Directors and last year was appointed to the Kemptville Campus Board of Directors. Dermid was Local Exhibitors Chair of the IPM and Rural Expo 2022.

Also honoured for their many achievements within their communities were nominees JoAnne Sytsma, Township of Athens, and Derek Ouellet, Township of Leeds and the Thousand Islands.

JoAnne is known for her giving nature. She has been involved in many charitable organizations for more than 30 years. Her name is synonymous with food bank drives. JoAnne and her late husband, Sid, created The Village Store in Athens and turned it into a downtown hub and tourist attraction. JoAnne is described as a champion for the entire region, making Leeds Grenville a better place to live and work. 

Top feature photo: Thake Award Co-winners Dermid O'Farrell, second from left, and Susan Warren, centre, are flanked by Marlene Thake, at left, and Warden Roger Haley, at right.

Above photo: Nominee JoAnne Sytsma and Township of Athens Mayor Herb Scott.

Above photo: Township of Leeds and the Thousand Islands nominee Derek Ouellet and his wife Cindy Healy.

Derek is a champion and advocate for economic growth and development in the Seeley's Bay community. He retired to the area but was soon opening Ridgway Confections, a chocolate shop helping put the village on the map. Derek and his wife, Cindy Healy, have launched the annual Easter Egg Hunt to encourage people to explore area parks, the main street and other gems. Eight years ago he spearheaded the annual Truffle Shuffle 5K walk/run to increase community involvement and support local food banks.

Since being introduced in 2011, the award has been presented to 18 individuals from across Leeds Grenville. Close to 50 deserving women and men have been nominated. During his lifetime, Bill Thake was known for his leadership and mentoring skills. He served 52 consecutive years on Westport Council to set a Canada-wide record as the longest serving head of a municipality.

More than 175 business leaders, municipal, provincial and federal government officials, as well as not-for-profit and support service representatives, attended the Summit.

Speakers, Panelists Discuss New Economic Realities

KEMPTVILLE – Responding to the new economic realities was the focus at the Leeds Grenville Economic Development Summit.


The Honourable Peter Bethlenfalvy, Ontario’s Minister of Finance, delivered the first keynote address on the government’s “Plan to Build,” including strengthening the economy and Ontario’s workforce while keeping costs down for families and businesses.


“When faced with this degree of uncertainty, we need to be flexible and forward thinking with a fiscal plan that is ready to support people and businesses when, and if, the time comes, while also laying a strong fiscal foundation for future generations,” Minister Bethlenfalvy said.


Pierre Cléroux, Vice President, Research and Chief Economist at BDC, was the event’s second keynote. Mr. Cléroux said labour shortages will remain a major challenge for several years but global supply chain issues are slowly easing.


“The economy is going to be bumpy. Economic growth is slowing down but we don't expect a recession, Mr. Cléroux said.

The event, being held in-person for the first time since 2019, is hosted by the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville Economic Development Office in partnership with Michael Barrett, M.P., the Hon. Steve Clark, M.P.P., the Eastern Workforce Innovation Board and the 1000 Islands, Grenville and Valley Heartland Community Futures Development Corporations.

“Businesses confronted the pandemic head on, and for many they have adjusted and created new opportunities that have resulted in growth,” said Ann Weir, Manager of the Leeds Grenville Economic Development Office. Ms. Weir, who was MC for the event, shared the results of the 2022 Fall Business Survey in her annual Economic Development Update to the summit audience.

“Nearly 70% of businesses indicated their business activity level today, compared to pre-COVID levels, is the same or higher,” Ms. Weir said of responses taken from 340 Leeds Grenville businesses.

A highlight of the summit was the “Going Digital,” session with testimonials from local business owners Norma Banford, Shelley Mitchell and Nicole Hudson. The pandemic has brought to light the importance of having your business online. In Leeds Grenville, close to 1,300 small businesses have benefitted from the highly successful Digital Main Street Program. Over 220 have received grants.


A panel discussion on “Welcoming a Diversified Workforce” reviewed how companies can leverage programs to build and fulfill their staffing needs, including immigration. Participants are listed in the photo below.

Additional highlights included special presentations by:

  • Clayton Jones, President and CEO of Johnstown’s CREWS (Canadian Rail Equipment Works and Services Inc.). Clayton outlined how his business has expanded in recent years.
  • Bonnie Ruddock, Executive Director of Region 9 Regional Tourism Organization. Bonnie discussed collaborations with Leeds Grenville businesses and organizations and initiatives to grown tourism visitation revenues and investment.

Photos above: Warden Roger Haley thanks Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy. Below: Pierre Cléroux, of BDC, takes questions from the audience.

Above photo: Golden Moment Farm co-owner Norma Banford gives a Digital Mainstreet Program testimonial.

Panel Discussion “Welcoming a Diversified Workforce” with participants from left: Panel moderator Melissa Francis, program manager of the St. Lawrence-Rideau Immigration Partnership; Damian Ford, HR Coordinator of Southbridge Care Homes in Kemptville; Andrew Melchers, President IN Engineering + Surveying of Brockville; Richard Webster, International Education Manager with St. Lawrence College; and Tracy McDonald, Employment Services Supervisor with CSE Consulting.

Digital Services

Attention Digital Vendors!


The pandemic brought to light the importance of going digital.

Businesses in the region are ready to take the plunge online or upgrade their current digital presence, and are seeking local vendors to help them.

Some of the digital specialties they are currently seeking include:

  • Social Media Account Management
  • Website Design & Development
  • Photography & Videography
  • Digital Training Consultant
  • eCommerce Development
  • Digital Marketing & Ads
  • Content Creation
  • Copywriting
  • SEO & SEM

We invite digital vendors to create or update your listing in the Business Directory.

With the goal of keeping digital grant monies in Leeds Grenville, keeping your listing fresh helps enable your exposure to these types of opportunities. If you’d like to be added to the Digital Vendor list, contact Shelbi McFarlane via email or call 613-342-3840, ext. 5361. 

Business Directory
Workshops, Seminars and Webinar Library

Preparing a Cash Flow: Simple Steps for Vital Insight

Understanding and predicting the flow of money in and out of your business can help entrepreneurs make smarter decisions, plan ahead, and ultimately avoid an unnecessary cash flow crisis. This webinar will cover:

  • How to Calculate Cash Flow Projections
  • Using Cash Flow Forecast to Make Date-driven Decisions
  • Sources of Funding

It includes a cash flow forecasting template with inventory control, accounts payable and accounts receivable tracker. The speaker is Carey McMaster and the session is hosted by the Small Business Advisory Centre.

WHEN: Tuesday, November 24, 9-10:30 a.m.

COST: Free

Learn more and to register

Financial Literacy Workshop Series

CSE Kemptville and the Volunteer Centre are hosting a two-workshop series focused on financial matters such as banking, savings, budgeting, credit and debt.

WHEN: Wednesday, November 23, 10 a.m. to noon

COST: Free

To register call 613-258-6576.

Social Media Workshop Series

Join the Business Support Network and Jennifer Baker for 90-minute free workshops this month. The third and final sessions are Instagram 201: Reels and Stories and Introduction to Facebook and Instagram ads.

WHEN: Tuesday, November 29, 9-10:30 a.m.

WHERE: Gananoque Public Library

COST: Free

For more information contact businesscoordinator@gananoque.ca

Struggling to Hire, Retain and Engage Employees?

Enhancing Your Hiring, Interviewing and Retention of Employees is key to your Organizational Success. Learn new strategies, tools and processes you can use to attract new employees, assess their skills, and understand what they need to remain loyal to your company.

Covered in this webinar:

  • Marketing your jobs and your organization
  • Understanding what potential candidates want to know before they apply
  • Developing enhanced interview processes to assess skills and knowledge
  • Learning what employees want
  • Leveraging your employees

Includes: PowerPoint notes, Employer Checklist, Chance to win a signed copy of Knowing Who You Lead written by the speaker Carrie-Lynn Hotson (to be included in the draw you must be from the geographic area of Lanark County / Smiths Falls / northern Leeds Grenville area and attend the virtual event). This seminar is hosted by the Small Business Advisory Centre in partnership with the Algonquin Community Employment Services - Perth and Ontrac Employment Resource Service - Smiths Falls.

WHEN: Monday, November 28, 9-11 a.m. (1 of 2 sessions)

COST: Free

Learn more or to register

Welcoming the LGBTQ2AI+ Community

Join RTO 9 and CGLCC - Canada's LGBT+ Chamber of Commerce for this highly engaging, in-person workshop and lunch. This workshop, hosted by the Municipality of North Grenville, is designed to help businesses learn how to effectively understand, value and serve your LGBTQ2AI+ employees and customers.

WHEN: Monday, November 28, 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

WHERE: Brigadoon Restaurant, 9 Bridge Street, Oxford Mills

COST: Free

Learn more or to register

Teeny Tiny Summit: How does Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) support community economic development?

The upcoming Teeny Tiny Summit series will have an overall theme of “Making Economic Development Happen in Teeny Tiny Places” and will share practical examples, lessons learned and community economic development tactics. As communities, economic developers, organizations, and others focus on economic recovery, applying diversity, equity and inclusion frameworks will be important to growth and building long-term resilience. By integrating diversity, equity, and inclusion into economic development programs, we can help create stronger, more resilient local economies. This session will explore ways in which communities are investing in diversity, creating a culture of equity, and removing barriers to ensure inclusion. Presented in partnership between the Rural Ontario Municipal Association and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

WHEN: Wednesday, November 30, 10 a.m. to 12 noon

COST: Free

Learn more

To Register

Starting a Small Business Information Session

The topics of this in-person workshop will include government regulations, ownership types, overview of a start-up checklist, the importance of a business plan and "Do I have what it takes to operate a small business?"

This session is delivered by the Small Business Advisory Centre and hosted by KEYS Employment Services.

WHEN: Friday, December 2, 10-11 a.m.

WHERE: 10 Perth Street, Elgin

COST: Free

To register, contact Leanna Thomas at 613-359-1140 or send her an email.

Effective Succession Planning - Do you know WHO your next leaders should be? (2 of 2)

Are you looking around and thinking “No one here has the skills and abilities to take over?" 

This is the situation facing many Canadian businesses and organizations. Current managers, owners, and leaders are tired and wanting to prepare for retirement but they don’t feel there is anyone ready to replace them. This workshop will provide you with six key steps you can use to start effective

succession planning now! The sessions are hosted by the Small Business Advisory Centre in partnership with Algonquin Community Employment Services - Perth and ontrac Employment Resource Services-Smiths Falls. The facilitator is Carrie-Lynn Hotson.

WHEN: Monday, December 5, 9-11 a.m.

COST: Free

Learn more or register

Diversity Day - Attraction and Retention of Immigrants to Leeds Grenville

The St. Lawrence-Rideau Immigration Partnership presents Diversity Day 2022. Learn about the attraction and retention of immigrants and international students from the perspective of local speakers. The day will also feature networking opportunities, a topical game and lunch.

WHEN: Wednesday, December 7, 8:45 a.m. to 1 p.m.

WHERE: Catered Affairs Heritage Hall, 820 Heritage Drive, Kemptville

COST: Free

For more information contact Lauren via email.

To register

Leeds Grenville eNews Deadlines for submitting information:

If you have an upcoming workshop, seminar, or business-related event, please email it to us in advance.

  • Submissions for the December 6th edition should be received by Monday, November 28th.
  • Submissions for the December 20th edition should be received by Monday, December 12th.
Ann Weir
Economic Development Manager
Deanna Clark
Economic Development Officer
Joanne Poll
Administration / Communications Support
Shelbi McFarlane
Business Development Officer

32 Wall Street, Suite 300, Brockville, ON K6V 4R9
613-342-3840 | 1-800-770-2170 | econdev@uclg.on.ca