Staff Profile: Heather Candler

Get to know our staff. We’ll be profiling them here so you can get to know who can help you grow your ideas. 

Heather Candler
Heather Candler, Agriculture and Rural Economic Development Advisor

What is your role in the Regional Economic Development Branch?  I have the pleasure of working as an Agriculture and Rural Economic Development Advisor out of the Brighton office in Eastern Ontario.  I work with rural Eastern Ontario communities in both Northumberland and Haliburton Counties on economic development initiatives. What initiatives or projects are you currently working on? I am currently working with Colborne (Northumberland County) and Highlands East (Haliburton County) on a First Impression Community Exchange (FICE) program.  The FICE program matches two similar communities who want to understand the impression people get when they visit their communities. The two communities each form a team that will visit the other community and look at things like housing, businesses, available services and transportation. The information gathered will be rolled up in a report and presented to the visited community.  I am supporting Cobourg and Port Hope (Northumberland County) with their Downtown Revitalization projects, and Trent Hills in their Business Retention + Expansion project.  I’m also working with my Eastern Ontario colleagues, planning for the 5th Annual Eastern Ontario Local Food Conference.  What do you most like about the work you do?  I really enjoy working directly with communities to help them seize economic development opportunities and build capacity so they can grow their economies.  There is no typical work day.  The challenges are new and the problems sometimes unexpected, but that variety is exhilarating.  And it leads directly to what else is so enjoyable – my colleagues and the supportive way in which we work together as an economic development team to create success for one another.  This supportive and positive environment is what drew me to OMAFRA and this opportunity.  What are your top skills?  I love to communicate and problem solve.  I enjoy a challenge.  Project management and conflict resolution have been my strength over the years, through some challenging but successful projects.  I mobilize teams well.  I appreciate the opportunity to facilitate and enjoy delivering workshops and training.  As a writer, I am editorial in nature and enjoy developing and refining content.  Professional background or How did you become involved with Economic Development?  My academic training concluded with an M.Sc. in Rural Planning & Development from the University of Guelph.  This training thrust most grads into a varied and exciting career in economic development, myself included.  Over my career I have worked as a consultant on land claims with First Nations, as Manager of Economic Development for the City of Belleville, and most recently for 10 years as the general manager of a very unique sustainable rural community development project in Batawa.  What is the value add that you give OMAFRA clients?  My experience is drawn from the public sector, private sector, and even my own agricultural background as an alpaca farmer.  When working with rural communities, I understand the challenges at each of these levels, and the power of collaboration to overcome them.  I have experience in all these arenas managing project, and clients, to achieve positive results.  I have a strong network here in Eastern Ontario that strengthens the work I do and the results I achieve.  How do people contact you? heather.candler@ontario.ca

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