Sunny Sarnia welcomed nearly 250 delegates, guests, speakers, sponsors and exhibitors for the OACFDC's 20th Annual Conference.  Along with good weather provided by the host CFDC, Sarnia-Lambton Business Development Corporation, the Holiday Inn located in the village of Point Edward provided excellent accommodations and food.  The event opened on the outdoor patio, with welcomes from SLBDC Board Chair Jace Kohlmeier & General Manager Don Anderson, Aamjiwnaang Chief Chris Plain, and Lambton County Warden Todd Case.  Then local oil baron Charlie Fairbank spoke on Lambton County’s oil heritage, explaining how the village of Oil Springs came to be the site of the world’s first commercial oil well.  Keynote speakers were well-received.  Becky McCray brought her “small town rules” and captivated the audience with her view of rural economic development.  The Honourable Gary Goodyear, Minister of State FedDev Ontario, did a walk-about in the trade show area, before delivering his message.  Theresa Man spoke on the changes coming to the non-profit act, and Karen Kahelin and Shelia Simpson presented information on how CFDCs can collaborate with the Ontario Trillium Foundation.  An Ignite 20 X 20 session offered valuable information in an entertaining atmosphere.  OACFDC President Denis Bérubé, along with Past Presidents Judy Nafziger and Bill Spinney were very good sports, taking on alter egos as the panel of judges.  And kudos to our five Ignite speakers – each presented a topic using 20 PowerPoint slides, with only 20 seconds per slide.  Thank you to Shawn Heard, Elliot Lake After; Cat Cabajar, Colouring Outside the Lines; Peter Budreo, Lighting a Fire Under Collaboration; Megan O’Neil, One Thing; and Susan Fournier, A STEP in the Right Direction!  There were three sessions of seven workshops each covering a wide variety of topics.  Always popular, the mobile workshop received rave reviews for the trip to the Smith Homestead Heritage Sustainable Farm.  Also garnering high praise in the workshop evaluations was David Jaeger Jones of Turtle Concepts with his youth engagement and retention workshops.  Co-op Success Stories, presented by Peter Cameron, Gilbert Peters and Christian Howald also received positive evaluations, as did many others.  Please note that presentations made at the conference (some keynotes, plenaries and workshops) are now posted on the OACFDC website.  The good weather continued as delegates travelled the St. Clair River, seeing Sarnia’s waterfront and enjoying a fish & chip dinner at Purdy’s Dockside Eatery.  The band Second Wind finished off a pleasant evening.  The conference’s highlight, the Awards banquet and gala, saw four trophies presented, following video presentations featuring each winner.  Three CFDCs received Awards of Excellence:  Elgin Business Resource Centre in St. Thomas won the Community Economic Development Award its work with Elgin Military Museum on Project Ojibwa.  The Ojibwa, a Canadian navy submarine, was brought to Port Burwell from Halifax and opened as a museum.  This tourist attraction has had many positive economic spinoffs;  The Trenval Business Development Corporation in Belleville won the Business Support Services Award for collaborating with the Canada Youth Business Foundation in supporting, funding, and mentoring youth entrepreneurship.  The many new businesses operated by youth in their community are a testament to their success; and The Northumberland Community Futures Development Corporation in Cobourg won the Collaboration on Innovation Award for encouraging the start-up of tech businesses.  The CFDC collaborated with Spark Centre, a service to help start and grow innovative technology-based companies, developed the N100 Entrepreneurship Competition, and promoted the growth of the IdeaHub business incubator.  In addition to the Awards of Excellence, an Award for the “Entrepreneur of the Year” was given to a CFDC client.  Francisco Enns, proprietor of Enns Textile Packaging Solutions in Aylmer, won Entrepreneur of the Year.  His business creates and sews special packaging for auto parts, employing about 50 people.  He was nominated by John Regan and Glenn Thorel of the Elgin Business Resource Centre, St. Thomas.  The videos about the Award winners are available on the OACFDC website.  The evening wrapped up with an excellent performance by members of the theatre troupe from Victoria Playhouse Petrolia.  Broadway singing and a powerful fiddle performance impressed delegates.  So, what did you think?  Please give us your evaluation of the 2013 OACFDC Conference.  A survey has been set up at  Just click the “submit” button to get the survey started!  And please circulate this link to anyone from your CFDC who attended the conference.  The survey should take less than ten minutes.  To show our appreciation to our survey respondents, participants’ names will be entered into a draw to win a Grand Prize of 3 nights’ FREE accommodations and FREE registration including meals at the 2014 Conference being held in Muskoka, September 2014, a value of more than $850.  Many of the questions are specifically about this year’s conference, but there are also questions to help the OACFDC with the planning of next year’s conference.  So,even if you did not attend this year’s conference, please do the survey anyway to let us know your ideas for next year.  And you can enter for the draw!  Respond to the survey before Tuesday, November 12, to take part in the draw, which will be made at 4:00 p.m.

If you have any questions about items you have read in this update or any other OACFDC activities, please feel free to call our office at 888-633-2326