Province continues to promote RENs

Adam MacInnis
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Michael Johnson, director of regional planning and development for the Department of Economic and Rural Development and Tourism, said the Regional Enterprise Networks are starting to gain momentum throughout the province.

A couple in the southern part have selected their board of directors and over the next few weeks people can expect announcements to that effect to start to go out.

As far as Pictou County is concerned, he said a regional manager is on the ground and talking with municipal leaders.

Regional Development Agencies were disbanded in 2013 and are expected to be replaced by RENs that will encompass larger areas, but still provide regional economic leadership and help develop regional economic strategies while supporting small, local business. Initially the province had hoped to have the RENs up and running by September, but it has taken longer than expected.

In the spring, it was proposed that Pictou County join together with Guysborough and Antigonish counties to form an REN, but Municipality of Pictou County Warden Ron Baillie told The News previously that they believe Colchester and Cumberland counties are a better fit.

While the province has established recommended zones, Johnson said they are more than willing to allow local municipalities to determine what might be the best fit.

“We’re not dictating who they should partnership with,” he said.

In many cases there is a historic relationship or one that leaders feel would be positive in the future.

Cape Breton is a case in point. Four Cape Breton municipalities recently agreed to join together, with Port Hawkesbury declining because it has a closer relationship to the Strait area.

He said he was aware of the preliminary discussions Pictou County had with Cumberland and Colchester county and said as a department they’re trying to support and facilitate those kind of discussions.

Another step the province has taken to help facilitate the development of the RENs was to create a Start up Guide.

“The department would like to see all the RENs up and running this calendar year,” he said.

On Twitter: NGNewsAdam

Geographic location: Pictou County, Colchester, Cape Breton Antigonish Port Hawkesbury

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