The federal government announced last week it would no longer fund the organizations, which makes up about a third of the agencies' funding. According to a press release from Atlantic Canadian Opportunities Agency, the cut is meant to cut back on red tape and avoid duplication of programs both ACOA and the RDA's offer. The funding will end one year from now.
This will affect the Lunenburg/Queens Regional Development Authority's (RDA) funding, though exactly what it means for the future of the organization is unclear. The RDA is also funded by the province of Nova Scotia and the municipal units in both counties
Mayor John Leefe says he isn't sure what it means for the Region of Queens yet, though he says it would be challenging for municipal units and the province to fill in the funding.
The Region has two representatives on the board of the RDA, Coun. Sheldon Brannen and citizen representation from Janice Reynolds.
The Region has worked with the RDA on several initiatives, the most recent being a best practices group. The focus of that group was to look at what the Region could do if the Mersey Paper Mill closed.
"I'm strongly of the view, as is the council, that while we hope for the best we must plan for the worst," he says.
He adds communities in New England that have lost cotton mills, similar in size to the Brooklyn mill, have successfully reinvented themselves and are still thriving.
Andrew Button, executive director of the RDA says it is a major change to how they will be funded. However he sees it is more of a change on how they will receive funding, rather than if they will continue operating.
ACOA is continuing with their project based funding, which is something the Lunenburg/Queens RDA does heavily. Though it is early to say what this exactly means for the future of the RDA, he does have hope for the future.
"Some of the things we are doing at RDA's across the province speak directly to the type of things ACOA is looking to support."
One of the major regional projects they've been working on is the Business Retention and Expansion program, aimed at connecting people to the resources in both counties.
That involved mapping the businesses in both counties, and gathering information about what they do and what they offer. With that information, they are creating a website where people can filter their search based on what they are looking for, see where the businesses are on a mapping program, and get the information on what they do.
The website will be rolling out some time in June.
Another project they have been working on is called Why Here? The project has involved people in economic development organizations in both counties, answering questions like why visit here, why raise a family here and why do business here.
The answers are being used to create a video presentation and website, to use as a marketing tool to attract new people to the area.