Chef Michael Smith, right, and wife Chastity accept the emerging business growth award from sponsor Jarret MacPhee of Grant Thornton for the couple's expansion at the Inn at Bay Fortune.
©STEVE SHARRATT/THE GUARDIAN
Dozen nominees recognized for excellence by Eastern P.E.I. Chamber of Commerce
GEORGETOWN - Premier Wade MacLauchlan mentioned it not once, but twice, during his address to the Eastern P.E.I. Chamber of Commerce business awards here recently.
He was praising the entrepreneurship and ingenuity of the region and noted that almost two dozen new businesses have sprouted up in the eastern P.E.I. district recently.
However, he concluded his remarks with a direct focus on the current plan for seven communities to join forces as the “Three Rivers” region on two separate occasions.
“This is a good night to acknowledge the considerable effort and leadership involved in the initiative to create strong regional government in the Three Rivers area,’’ said MacLauchlan. “The province encourages this initiative with funding support and we look forward to further stages of this work.”
The premier made the point blank comment during the 2016 awards banquet at the Kings Playhouse. Town mayor Lewis Lavandier, is the chair of the proposed Three Rivers regional effort and was in the audience. Also attending were representatives from most of the communities involved in the talks and a collection of councillors and Mayor Richard Collins seated at a table reserved by the Town of Montague.
MacLauchlan's remark comes on the heels of a recent derailment of the process as the Town of Montague voted to step out of the talks and request a smaller regional zone that comprised the town’s fire district. The move has drawn considerable concern from the six other communities pressing ahead with the regional concept and the ire of government that was addressed tactfully by the premier. Some Montague councillors have said privately they wish to return to the regional talks.
“The practical implications (of amalgamation) have been a priority since I announced an intent to get involved in political life and a clear policy of government going back to the (Judge Ralph) Thompson report (on land and local governance),” said MacLauchlan, noting that financial and institutional growth for the area were part of such a process.
The premier pointed out the motto of the 120 plus members of the eastern P.E.I. chamber was “together we grow” and acknowledged the success of the dozen nominees in four business categories.
“As I visit places across this province I know there is one essential ingredient behind every success story…nothing succeeds without entrepreneurial leadership,” he said. “You have it here in this chamber and in this community.”
The premier noted the changing demographics – the aging population – is of concern, but noted the arrival of Amish farmers coming to the region and Syrian refugees are all part of the future growth. He also acknowledged that aging entrepreneurs were also part of the trend to build an even stronger economy in the region.
“We have to learn to live within our means,’’ he said, almost foreshadowing the pending provincial budget. “And because we are small, we can be nimble.”
The gathering was told the province has assisted in the development of $250 million worth of projects since 2009 and almost half have been in rural P.E.I.
And the winners are...
Employee of the year – Shirley Bradley CIBC Montague
Pillar of community – James MacAulay, Community of St. Peter’s Bay
Emerging business growth award – Chief Michael Smith, Inn at Bay Fortune
Business excellence – Jason Aspin and Chunying Li, Aspin Kemp and Associates