January 2014

Submitted by Mary Alderson, Member Services Coordinator, OACFDC

The Elgin Business Resource Centre (EBRC) was honoured in two categories, when nearly 250 delegates from Community Futures
Development Corporations (CFDCs) across Ontario met in Sarnia recently at the 20th Annual OACFDC Conference.  It was EBRC’s nominee who took the coveted “Entrepreneur of the Year Award” and the EBRC also won the Award of Excellence for Community Economic Development.

From Humble Beginnings to Entrepreneur of the Year

Enns Textile

An Aylmer businessman has been honoured as “Entrepreneur of the Year” for the growth of his small business, which now employs nearly 50 people.  Francisco Enns of Enns Textile Packaging Solutions was nominated for the award by the Elgin Business Resource Centre, from which Mr. Enns received a loan to expand his business.

Enns Textile received the prestigious award out of many nominations from across the province.  He was honoured at the annual conference of the Ontario Association of Community Futures Development Corporations, held recently in Sarnia.  On hand to accept the award were Mr. and Mrs. Enns, and his business associates, Mr. and Mrs. Roseti of Sigma Pac, as well as representatives from the Elgin Business Resource Centre:  Helen Haddow, Chair of the Board of Directors, John Regan, General Manger and Glenn Thorel, Loans Officer.

Enns Textile makes reusable automotive packaging to move parts between manufacturing and assembly plants.  But that’s not how
the business began, Mr. Enns says.  “In the beginning, we were doing furniture finishing, that’s what the shop was built to do,” he adds.  But things changed when he met up with engineers who were looking for a way to ship autoparts.  

“When I first started the business, my goal was to have a small business working at home, leading a quiet life, making a comfortable living with one or two employees,” Mr. Enns says.  But the business soon outgrew his home and he now employs upwards of 50 people.  When he needed money for equipment in order to expand, he contacted the Elgin Business Resource Centre for a loan.  The EBRC very quickly put together a loan for him to be able to buy the equipment needed to meet his clients’ needs.

According to EBRC Loans Officer Glenn Thorel, Mr. Enns clearly understood the opportunity that was available to him, and wanted to
take advantage of it right away.  The EBRC was in a position to make that happen as quickly as possible, so the opportunity wasn’t lost.  “Right from the start, he was an entrepreneur who has what I call the ‘do-it’ attitude,” says Mr. Thorel.  Mr. Enns has a good balance of moving forward quickly and keeping a clear vision of where he is going, explains Mr. Thorel.

Enns Textile manufactures reusable packaging from fabric and vinyl.  The materials are cut to very specific sizes by computers and then sewn on industrial machines.  Mr. Enns has plans for the continued growth of Enns Textile.  He has purchased adjacent land for expanding his operations, and hopes to employ 100 people in future.  

“We are pleased to honour Mr. Enns as the 'Entrepreneur of the Year'.  His business is an excellent example of the type that the Community Futures program can nurture and help grow,” says Diana Jedig, Executive Director of the Ontario Association of Community Futures Development Corporations.

Submarine Wins Economic Development Award

project ojibwa

A project, which involved moving a huge decommissioned military submarine from Halifax to Elgin County, has been recognized for its contributions to the local economy.  The Elgin Business Resource Centre recently won the Award of Excellence for Community Economic Development, recognizing its involvement with the Elgin Military Museum in bringing the Ojibwa submarine to Port Burwell.

Project Ojibwa was selected for the prestigious award out of nominations from across the province and received the acknowledgement
at the Annual Conference of the Ontario Association of Community Futures Development Corporations, held recently in Sarnia.  Accepting the award on behalf of the Elgin Business Resource Centre (EBRC) was Helen Haddow, Chair of the Board of Directors.  Also on hand for presentation were Ian Raven and Tim Barrett of the Elgin Military Museum, which is responsible for Project Ojibwa.

“This project was quite ambitious.  The thought of our little military museum bringing a submarine to Elgin County was quite attractive to us as a CFDC,” says Marilyn Crewe, Community Economic Development officer at the EBRC.  Ms. Crewe, along with John Regan, General Manager of the EBRC, assisted the Military Museum and its partners in the development of a business plan, and provided funding towards moving the submarine.  “This was a project that inspired the imagination,” Ms. Crewe adds.  “We could see it
as an opportunity to really have a focal point for naval history here in Ontario.”

Moving the submarine was a huge project.  It was carried on a barge from Halifax to Hamilton, through the St. Lawrence Seaway, then remounted for transfer from Hamilton to Port Burwell on Lake Erie.  “Many aspects of it had to be uniquely engineered,” says Ian Raven of the Elgin Military Museum.  

Getting the submarine lifted onto land at its new home was also a feat, but it is now safely ensconced in Port Burwell and welcoming tourists.

“From a CED prospective, Project Ojibwa is vital to Port Burwell’s economy, with 18,000 visitors coming to tour the sub just this summer,” Ms. Crewe explains.  “Restaurants are reporting that they are four times busier, and the local marine museum has had more visitors,” Mr. Raven adds.

“We are pleased to honour Elgin Business Resource Centre and their partners for their work on Project Ojibwa.  It shows how bringing this attraction to a rural community can be a benefit to local economy,” says Diana Jedig, Executive Director of the Ontario Association of Community Futures Development Corporations.