What is your role in the Regional Economic Development Branch?
I am the Agriculture and Rural Economic Development Advisor for the Niagara region. I support communities with economic development opportunities. I am often the first point of contact in the process of accessing the programs, tools and resources delivered by OMAFRA’s, Regional Economic Development Branch.
What initiatives or projects are you currently working on?
I recently participated as a panelist in a discussion about how Niagara might move forward in creating multi-level collaborations that serve agriculture and food in Niagara and beyond.
I also had the pleasure of facilitating a discussion with the Ontario cider industry that involved 32 participants from across the value chain. The session involved individual growers, the Craft Cider Association, The Apple Growers Association, researchers and the LCBO. The goal was to identify the top priorities that need to be addressed in order to enable the industry to grow.
What do you most like about the work you do?
I really enjoy the diverse range of tasks and activities I get to work on. Not one day is similar to the next. One day I may find information on Ontario insect imports, the next I may provide consultation to businesses looking to expand, and other days I may prepare discussion frameworks for a facilitation or presentation to a municipal council about our tools and resources.
What are your top skills?
I’d say my top skill is being intentionally nice. Everyone needs to feel like they’ve been heard, and I try to always offer that opportunity, even if I can’t always solve the issue or problem. By being nice, I create a welcoming environment for people. A large part of what I do here at the Ministry involves sharing perspectives; whether it be through group facilitation, client consultation, or committee discussion about economic development planning resources.
What is your professional background? How did you become involved with Economic Development?
That’s a long, winding road! I spent three years as the Tourism Manager in the City of Welland. This was valuable in terms of leveraging the community to support and develop community assets. A decade of my career was spent as the Events Manager at the Niagara Grape and Wine Festival and Niagara Icewine Festival. This role taught me how to develop a product or program that consumers wanted to buy, that sponsors wanted to fund, and industry stakeholders wanted to support. From there, I went to the provincial Ministry of Economic Development and Trade in Toronto as a marketing consultant and worked on some major international trade shows in the Bio Science and Aerospace fields. As a long-time resident of the Niagara Region, I was happy to take on a role at the Vineland Resources Centre with the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. My educational background includes a degree in Political Science and Labour Studies and post-graduate training in Public Relations. I have also been fortunate to attend all three years of the EDAC Economic Development Program through the University of Waterloo.
What is the value add that you give OMAFRA clients?
My knowledge of how to build a program starting with zero based budgeting. I often say if you can figure out “who cares” about a situation, you can find who will support developing solutions.
How do people contact you?
By phone: (905)-562-1873, and by email: email@example.com
Find your Regional Agricultural and Rural Economic Advisor here.