Development agency closing the doors

Nick
Nick Moase
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The Lunenburg Queens Regional Development Agency (LQRDA) will soon be shutting its doors. 

News from The Advance

In May of 2012, the federal government announced that Atlantic Canadian Opportunities Agency (ACOA) would no longer finance regional development agencies. In Lunenburg/Queens, the federal portion made up a third of the total operating cost, about $154,000, while the province and the combined municipalities each provided a third.

The province soon after announced it would do a review of RDA's in Nova Scotia. That report came out last fall, and recommended to end funding of the RDA's, and replace them with Regional Enterprise Networks (REN). With two sources of funding gone, the LQRDA could not continue.

"The reality of that situation for us, is basically a year to year arrangement," says Andrew Button, executive director of the LQRDA.

The report released by the province was a list of recommendations, and as of February there were no announcements about when the REN's would become active.

The LQRDA has been around for 18 years, and its main goal has been developing the community and business sector.

Button took over a little over two years ago, and at the time they were more involved with newcomer settlement and marketing the area to people looking to move to Nova Scotia.

The LQRDA went through an extensive revamp when Button stepped in, changing their focus from a more community driven focus to trying to attract more businesses to the area. Button says they wanted to influence job creation, which would boost the economy through an increased tax base.

One of their more recent projects was the Why Here initiative. A series of videos were created to tell the stories of those who have moved here and those who spent their lives here, and answer why they wanted to live in these communities.

The videos were collected onto a website, which also acts as a hub for information about the assets in the two counties.

The Why Here project won't end with the LQRDA however. The steering committee that looks after the initiative was created out of many groups.

"The way that really took foot was we established a steering committee with representation from the municipal units, ACOA and other partners," he says.

What they will lose however is the central agency to help people with questions about the area.

"The whole intent of the project is to make your phone ring and fill your inbox," says Button.

Button also served on Bowater Transition Committee in 2012 representing the RDA.

Now the LQRDA is working to wind things down by the end of March. Button says there will likely be other work done to dissolve the organization after that, but as of April 1 they will no longer be doing any proactive work in the community. However he remains optimistic about the future of the two counties.

"At the end of the day, the community doesn't stop just because an organization stops," he says. "I think there is a lot of vitality and resilience in Lunenburg/Queens, and I think the community will respond."

Organizations: Atlantic Canadian Opportunities Agency, Regional Enterprise Networks, Bowater Transition Committee

Geographic location: Lunenburg, Nova Scotia

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