June 14, 2010

Rural Economic Developers from across Ontario honoured their own and named an “Entrepreneur of the Year” at their Annual Conference, held this week in Thunder Bay.  The Ontario Association of Community Futures Development Corporations wrapped up their two day event on June 12 with the Awards presentation.  The members of the organization represent 61 Community Futures Development Corporations, located in towns and rural areas across the province.

Community Futures Development Corporations (CFDCs) provide free counselling and business loans to entrepreneurs, and work on community economic development projects.  CFDCs are funded by Industry Canada through FedNor and FedDev Ontario, and operate as non-profit corporations.  Decisions are made locally by volunteer Boards of Directors working with managers and staff in each office.  Volunteer directors and staff alike will be attending the conference June 10 to 12.

The "Entrepreneur of the Year" was chosen from several nominees, all successful businesses that received loans and counselling from CFDCs.  Winning the prestigious award was Robert Morley of Powerbase Energy Systems Inc. & Sequence Controls Inc. in Carleton Place, Ontario.  He was nominated by John Doherty, Executive Director of Valley Heartland Community Futures Development Corporation in Smiths Falls.

Since 1994, Sequence Controls has been designing and manufacturing electronic controls for a niche market, which includes hydro massage, medical or therapeutic and boiler controls.  In 1997, they developed a low cost automated hydroelectric power generation control system.  With a new product to be sold to end users, Powerbase Energy Systems was born.  They also have a system to create energy from manure.

Three Community Futures Development Corporations were honoured for their work on special projects:

Atikokan Economic Development Corporation for their work in the development of a major tourist attraction, the Atikokan Bass Classic.  More than just a fishing tournament, it is a week-long event filled with festivities.

Muskoka Futures for their initiative Innovation Muskoka, providing mentorship, workshops and networking opportunities for small businesses and artisans in the creative economy.  Innovation Muskoka recognizes the importance of a thriving knowledge-based and cultural economy during the current paradigm shift.

Nishnawbe Aski Development Fund for their work in establishing a series of video conferences.  These video workshops provide professional development opportunities for their clients in remote areas, who cannot easily travel for training.  The video workshops now reach communities throughout Ontario, helping entrepreneurs with subject matter such as basic bookkeeping and business planning.

The OACFDC is pleased to honour the Entrepreneur of the Year, in partnership with FedNor and FedDev Ontario.  The OACFDC is also proud of the three CFDC Achievement Awards winners.  The Achievement Awards are sponsored by Desjardins Financial Security and Comprehensive Benefit Solutions.