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Municipalities working on details of regional enterprise

PICTOU

Councils are getting their first look at an inter-municipal agreement for a new business group.

The Municipality of the County of Pictou discussed a few points in the agreement to establish guidelines for municipal units involved in the new Regional Enterprise Network.

Regional Enterprise Networks are designed to provide economic leadership and help develop regional economic strategies, while supporting small, local businesses. They were introduced in 2013 after the federal government cut funding to the 12 regional development agencies in the province.

The idea is to have a board of directors made up of private sector business people, with oversight by a committee of elected officials.

REN would cost between $300,000 and $350,000 to operate annually, with the six municipalities and the province each contributing half.

Its based on a 50-50 funding formula that involves half of the $166,000 being split evenly between the six municipalities and the remaining half based on population.

County CAO Brian Cullen said the agreement stipulates that units must be committed to RENS financially for five years and can only withdraw on the five-year anniversary and every five years after that.

“If you agree to extend, you are locked in for another five years,” he said.

Coun. Larry Turner of Pictou County’s Economic Development Working Group said there has been some discussion with the Pictou Landing First Nations to inform the band leaders about RENS.

“They will take the information back to band council and see if they want participate with the six other units,” he said. “We have really developed a good relationship with the other units and it’s encouraging to see how all the members on the committee are compromising to this point. I think we are moving in the right direction.”

Cullen said it is possible for other municipal units or band councils to come on board after RENS is established. They would just need to agree to the terms of the inter-municipal agreement.

Council agreed to table the agreement until its solicitor could review it and provide input to council on it.

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