EDCO Regional Economic Development Professional Development Event

Eastern Region

Holiday Inn Express & Suites 1000 Islands

777 King St. East

Gananoque, Ontario

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

Register for the Gananoque Event Here!

Registration Closes on Wednesday, October 26, 2022


9:00 AM      Welcome

9:15 AM      Current and Future Trends of Economic Development      

The landscape of economic development has seen considerable change over the past few years. Many areas are facing labour force issues, housing shortages, and specific to Gananoque who has experienced a 4% increase in population. This session will explore how the Ontario East Economic Development Commission supports its member communities through regional marketing programming and professional development. We will delve into the labour force issues and Ontario East's unique workforce development program promoting all the resources available to existing residents and newcomers. We will also discuss current economic development activities and how Ontario East communities are meeting the challenges in economic development today.

Speaker Profiles:

Jay Amer is the Executive Director & Board Secretary at Ontario East Economic Development Commission. Jay's economic development experience includes twelve years as a senior executive with Peterborough's economic development agency and since 2010, operation of his own professional consultancy, Amer & Associates Economic Development. He has delivered a successful portfolio of work that includes economic development strategic plans, economic research and analysis for investment attraction and trade, marketing communications, government relations and funding programs, as well as organizational development and governance. Prior to discovering his passion for economic development, Jay served in a variety of technical and communications management roles with Ontario Power Generation, and he has also volunteered on numerous non-profit boards. He is a past President of the Economic Developers Association of Canada (EDAC), has been a member of Ontario East since 2000 and is Ontario East’s representative on the Eastern Ontario Leadership Council (EOLC).

Chris King is the President of the Quinte Economic Development Commission. With over 25 years’ experience as an Ontario East member, Chris serves as Chief Executive Officer of the Quinte Economic Development Commission (QEDC) where he oversees investment attraction and retention activities for this regional economic development organization that represents the City of Belleville, The City of Quinte West (Trenton) and the Municipality of Brighton.

Chris is a Certified Economic Developer (Ec.D.) and has been recognized for his success in attracting many new employers to the Bay of Quinte region in various industry sectors. He has earned several awards at the regional, provincial, and international levels for his work with QEDC.

Chris is active on a number of boards and committees and has lead a number of initiatives including: workforce development, investment missions to international locations, and Ontario East team leader food and advanced manufacturing sector, He is a past chair of the Ontario Food Cluster, former board member of Launch Lab and Trenval Community Development Corporation. He is currently past President of the Trenton Rotary Club and a Paul Harris Fellow.

Trish MacNamara has worked for several Cabinet Ministers in the Province of Alberta from 1981 to 1990, when returning to Ontario she was Dean of Clarke College in Brockville for 7 years; she owned her own consulting business, ReFocus Training & Development Centre, where she was contracted as the Regional Development Manager with (WRED) Women and Rural Economic Development and Program Manager for (ACTEW) A Commitment for Training & Employment for Women).  She entered the non-profit sector in 2001 helping clients return to the workforce. 

As the Program Manager for KEYS Job Centre in Leeds, Grenville and Lanark Counties, Trish has partnered in many initiatives to aid in community development.  She believes that there is a natural connection between workforce development and economic development. 

Some of Trish’s Board experience includes Former President of the 1000 Islands Gananoque Chamber of Commerce, Active Board of Director of the 1000 Islands Community Development Corporation, Past Chair of the 1000 Islands Region Workforce Development Board. And, Past Chair of the (W.E.L.L.) Women Entrepreneurs in Lanark and North Leeds Steering Committee with Valley Heartland Community Futures Development Corp.

Currently Trish is active in the recognition of the career development sector and as a “Certified Career Development Practitioner” she volunteers with the Career Professionals of Canada Association as the Eastern Ontario Ambassador and is on the Advisory Committee for the Career Development Practitioners’ Certification Board of Ontario.

Trish received the Girls Incorporated of Upper Canada 2019 Women of the Year Award Employment Professional. 

Jeannette Johnstone is the Small Business Development Officer for the LGSBC. She has a 30 year history in Small Business and a 8 year history in Economic Development.  With a passion for community and connecting people and businesses Jeanette loves her work at the Leeds Grenville Small Business Centre.

10:30 AM     Break

10:45 AM     Community Improvement Plans

      Community Improvement Plans are a fundamental tool to ensure your community is planning for the future and supporting the community with growth and change. This session will discuss how the Gananoque CIP is tying into the downtown and preparing for the future.

Speaker Profile:

Amanda Trafford is a lifelong resident of Gananoque and the Township of Leeds and the Thousand Islands. She has worked for the Town of Gananoque for the past 6 years in the Business Development role, assisting existing businesses, as well as attracting new entrepreneurs and businesses to the area.

12:00 PM     Lunch Break & Networking

1:00 PM       Agri-Food and Rural Economic Development

There are many small scale agri-food producers throughout Ontario. This session will review how local producers have grown their home-based businesses. We will also explore how small scale agri-food producers contribute to the local economy and what programs are available through the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs.

Speaker Profiles:

George Horton, After he graduated from the University of Guelph with a Hon. B.Sc. (Agr.), He took over the dairy farm from his father and ran it for 35 years. When he retired from dairy farming, he wanted to remain busy so he converted the farm to cash cropping, resurrected the sugar bush, and started a small solar farm through the micro FIT program.

In addition, he wanted to give back to the community. He was a director and president of the Leeds Federation of Agriculture. Also, during those years he was a director with Boy Scouts of Canada, and a warden at St. John’s Anglican Church in Lansdowne.

 He narrowed his focus in the last 10 years to economic development and aimed for organizations that move this area forward. He was first appointed to the economic development committee with TLTI for two and one-half terms as director and chair. He also sat on the TLTI peer committee during that time. He was a director with the Saint Lawrence Corridor Commission in Brockville and the Gananoque, 1000 island chamber of commerce. He has completed his terms with these organizations.

Following the economic development theme, he is a director and coordinates publicity for Half Moon Bay. He is currently chair of the Eastern Workforce Innovation Board. whose mandate is leadership through labour market planning.

He sings in a semi-professional acapella choir, received the Keeper of the Islands award for the Gananoque 1000 islands Chamber of Commerce, and was named sugar maker of the year in 2018 by the Lanark maple syrup producers association.

His grandson will be the 8th generation from father to son on this farm since 1836. It is his hope that this generational farm will continue in some form. Since his son and daughter are good at thinking outside of the box, he is excited to see what the future holds. 

Karen Fischer, is an Agriculture and Rural Economic Development Advisor, working as part of a very dynamic team of Community Economic Development (CED) professionals with OMAFRA. She has worked with rural municipalities, organizations, Indigenous communities and businesses for 22 years, as a coach, facilitator, trainer, and collaborator, building partnerships and providing resources and tools to help increase economic and community development capacity.

She has an in-depth knowledge and is very passionate about helping to build vibrant and vital rural communities using numerous CED tools, programs and resources. She has particular expertise and interest in business retention and expansion, strategic planning and organizational development, business and community development, Teeny Tiny communities, and supporting the local food sector. Karen has demonstrated a significant commitment to learning, unlearning and facilitating conversations about diversity, equity and inclusion within her unit, branch and Ministry, and is working with her CED team to deliver programming to external clients using a DEI lens.

Karen is a white settler, and resides on the traditional lands of the Huron-Wendat and Haudenosaunee Nations, adjacent to Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory in the rural village of Consecon on beautiful Wellers Bay. She is an avid volunteer in the community and beyond, and has a great love for the outdoors, kayaking, hiking, motorcycling, camping, and finding joy in the moment.

Wendy Banks, the owner of Wendy’s Country Market and Furnace Falls Farm in Lyndhurst, is a sixth-generation farmer whose mission is to ensure our community has access to wholesome, nutritious, local farm-fresh food year-round.

She excels at meeting the needs of her customers, providing over seventy local producers with a much-needed market for their goods and encouraging the next generation on the importance of learning where their food comes from. Celebrating thirteen years in business with Wendy’s Country Market, Wendy leads with integrity and heart, serving others with a smile.

Over the years, Wendy has won several awards for her dedication and work in the community, including the Premier’s Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence in Leeds & Grenville County, the Bill Thake Memorial Economic Development Leadership Award, The Ben Tekamp Memorial Award and the Strong, Smart & Bold Women of the Year. Most recently, Wendy’s Country Market was recognized with the Peoples Choice Award from the 1000 Islands Gananoque Chamber of Commerce.

Not about to slow down any time soon, Wendy plans further expansion as she prioritizes rural sustainability.

We, her community, customers, staff, and family, look forward to many more years to come and are thankful that someone like Wendy Banks has made it her purpose to help put local food on our plates.

2:15 PM       Break

2:30 PM       Working Regionally in Tourism and Economic Development

Eastern Ontario organizations have collaborated to support their local economy in a variety of partnerships. This session will explore how these partnerships work collaboratively among tourism and economic associations in the East.

Speaker Profiles:

Bonnie Rudduck has been with RTO9 since the inception of the Regional Tourism Organization in 2011. Bonnie was appointed to Executive Director in 2017 after 6 years as Operations Manager for RTO9. With a background in finance and a passion for the tourism industry, Bonnie is a true leader.  Prior to her career with RTO9, Bonnie was Executive Director for the 1000 Islands Gananoque Chamber of Commerce for 10 years.  In 2020 Bonnie completed her MBA in Community Economic Development and is also a graduate of St. Lawrence College. 

Meg Dabros was born in Ottawa to a military family, Meg spent the early years of her life moving around Canada and the United States before being settled in the 1000 Islands region. Going to school and graduating from the Sprott School of Business at Carleton University in Ottawa with a Bachelor of Commerce, Meg returned to the region once again to join the team at 1000 Islands Helicopter Tours, specializing in digital marketing. This reignited her love for the region and opened up the opportunity to learn from and work directly with the regional marketing office and lead to her current position as the Executive Director of 1000 Islands Tourism. Meg is responsible for the International Marketing of Gananoque and 1000 Islands region.

Donna Gillespie is an experience leader who has manage a variety of small and medium enterprises in the public, private, and not-for-profit sectors. She has overseen significant community economic development initiatives in investment attraction, strategic planning, brand development, and corporate restructuring.

Under her leadership as CEO, Kingston realized the highest levels of new foreign direct investment in the city’s history with the establishment of Portuguese fruit processor Frulact and Chinese infant formula manufacturer Feihe-Canada Royal Milk. Donna is a found of the Queen’s Career Apprenticeship: Kingston program which received a gold-rank award by the International Economic Development Council for partnerships with post-secondary educational partners and the Kingston-Syracuse Path which is one of four cross-border economic corridors in Canada with a focus on health innovation. In 2021, Donna was recognized as the Economic Developer of the Year by the Ontario East Economic Development Commission for her contributions to the region and leadership in supporting businesses during the pandemic.

Donna is a Board Member of Tourism Kingston, Advisor to the Kingston Accommodations Partners, sits on the City of Kingston’s Planning and Climate Leadership Advisory Groups, the Kingston Immigration Partnership Steering Committee and the International Advisory Committee for the International Economic Development Council. Currently, she volunteers her time as a Board of Directors of the Kingston Kid’s Triathlon, Theatre Kingston and Sydenham District Association.

3:45 PM       Question & Answer Period from the day


Farewell & Thank you

Register for the Gananoque Event Here!


Holiday Inn Express & Suites Gananoque /1000 Islands 

November 1-2, 2022 EDCO Group Rate

$124.99 (+taxes) includes Express Breakfast

(613) 382-8338

*Registration Cancellation will receive a full refund less a $50.00 administration fee*

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