An independent panel appointed to review the existing Regional Development Authority (RDA) model in the province has recommended creating six Regional Enterprise Networks, or RENs, that would bring together business communities, the province, municipalities and other groups that are involved in economic development.
"We travelled the province to get input and the passion of Nova Scotians about our economic future was very clear," said panel chair Jo Ann Fewer. "Our recommendations are based on what we learned and heard, balanced with the current economic landscape of Nova Scotia."
The proposal for RENs in this part of the province sees some geographical variance in the old RDA that used to serve the region, in that parts of Shelburne County would not be included with the units in Yarmouth County, and the region that includes Yarmouth would extend into Digby.
Regional Enterprise Network 1:
• Town of Yarmouth
• Municipality of Yarmouth
• Municipality of Argyle
• Municipality of Barrington
• Municipality of Clare
• Municipality of Digby
• Town of Digby
• Town of Clark’s Harbour
(Note: Includes western Shelburne County from Barrington and Clyde River west to the Yarmouth County line (eight municipalities, approximate population 51,000.)
Regional Enterprise Network 2:
• Town of Shelburne
• Municipality of Shelburne
• Town of Lockeport
• Region of Queens Municipality
• Town of Bridgewater
• Town of Mahone Bay
• Town of Lunenburg
• Municipality of Lunenburg
• Municipality of Chester
(Note: Includes eastern Shelburne County and the western Halifax Regional Municipality, nine municipalities, approximate population 65,000).
The province and Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities will work with municipalities to consider the recommendations and understand how the new REN model can best be implemented.
In July 2012, the province and municipalities appointed an independent panel to review the current Regional Development Authority model and make recommendations to support regional economic development in the province in the future. There are currently 12 RDAs in the province, which are funded by the three levels of government.
The panel released its report on Nov. 28. The panel members were:
-- Jo Ann Fewer (chair), CEO of Perennia Inc.
-- Keith MacDonald, executive director, Cape Breton Partnership
-- Bob MacEachern, a business owner from the Port Hawkesbury area
-- Allister Surette, president of Université Ste. Anne
Nova Scotia’s current model of RDAs was established in 1994. This region has been without an RDA since June 2010 when the South West Shore Development Authority (SWSDA) ceased to exist.
Since earlier this year, a regional economic council has been in place on a temporary basis that places a strong emphasis on business community representation at the economic council table.
The review panel appointed by the province to look at the RDA structure made 25 recommendations for more effective regional economic development in the province, dealing with mandate, core activities, governance, accountability, budget and geography.
In addition to creating RENs, the recommendations include:
-- Refine the mission of economic development organizations to guide and navigate regional economic development while providing support to businesses
-- Align regions around communities of interests to support the development of priority and emerging sectors
-- Focus core activities for RENs to provide regional leadership on economic priorities, develop regional economic plans and provide support to businesses
-- Introduce a shared governance model and enhanced governance practices
-- Refine performance standards to improve accountability and reporting
-- Introduce a new funding model for regional economic development partners
During consultation sessions stakeholders were invited to suggest new economic regions. Few suggested regional development boundaries beyond the existing RDA model. The panel also heard from some stakeholders who were expressly not interested in or willing to consider a larger region for economic development.
In the end, the panel consulted with Nova Scotians and about 40 groups for input, and reviewed best practices.
The federal government announced it will stop funding RDAs in May 2013. The federal and provincial governments and municipalities provide about $2.1 million each to fund RDAs, which were introduced in Nova Scotia in 1993.
The report reviewing RDAs is available at http://gov.ns.ca/econ/publications/.