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January-February 2021


9:00 a.m. – 9:05 a.m. Welcome
9:05 a.m. – 10:05 a.m. Keynote Presentation: A Conversation with Janice Stein

Start the EDCO Conference series off on the right foot!  Relax and enjoy a lively and interactive fireside conversation with Janice Stein, Belzberg Professor of Conflict Management in the Department of Political Science and the Founding Director of the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy at the University of Toronto, and Lidy Romanuk, Manager, Economic Development and Tourism, Haldimand County and EDCO 2021 President.

Ms. Stein will share her insights on the current state of affairs, and what the future holds for us.  How will the pandemic, innovation, diversity, and global politics thread through economic development as we recover from this notable time in history?  What are the areas of caution for economic developers?  What will the changing landscape look like and how can your community evolve to take advantage.  

You’ll also have the opportunity to ask Ms. Stein your questions on resetting the economy and to share your views on these and other critical issues of the day through a series of interactive polls.

This is a perfect way to kick-off EDCO’s exciting conference series with your fellow EDCO members.

Presented by: 

10:05 a.m. – 10:15 a.m. Health Break
10:15 a.m. – 11:15 a.m. Bright Ideas Competition

The EDCO Bright Ideas Competition was officially launched at the 2019 EDCO Annual Conference and Showcase.  This year’s teams of economic development practitioners were presented with challenges being faced by our community in the areas of Youth Retention, Performance Measurement, and Entrepreneurial Ecosystem.  These teams have embarked on a journey of learning to explore new perspectives and solutions.  Now is your chance to be part of the jury to help select the winning team!  Your vote will be part of the judging process.  Join the Bright Ideas Competition teams as they present their innovative ideas to real-life challenges facing economic development practitioners in Ontario and cast your vote for the best solution.

Moderator:  Jason Dias, Chair, Bright Ideas Competition

Team Entrepreneurial Ecosystem

  • Emmanuel Rey, Economic Developers, SÉO
  • Cagdas Onen, Project Manager, Waylink Capital

Team Performance Measurement

  • Amanda St. John, Senior Economic Development Officer, Town of Oakville
  • Alia Abbas, Economic Development Professional
  • Brandon Webb, Research and Marketing Economic Development Officer, County of Brant

Team Youth Retention

  • Lucas Chang, Co-founder and Director of Programming, Y2 Entrepreneurship Labs
  • Ferene Navarra, Digital Service Squad, Burlington Economic Development and Small Business Digital Service Support Member, Business Advisory Centre Durham
  • Eli Levin, Associate, Investments, Neighbourhood Capital

11:15 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Annual General Meeting of EDCO Members


9:00 a.m. – 9:05 a.m. Welcome
9:05 a.m. – 10:05 a.m. Building Back Tourism

Join Beth Potter as she discusses with industry experts how we can work towards Building Back Tourism.  Attendees will hear from Chris Bloore, TIAO’s Director of Policy and Government Affairs, as he discusses Supporting Policy Work.  Janet O’Connell, Executive Director for Muskoka Tourism, will speak to Facilitating Business Success, drawing on her own experience jumping into this role and hitting the ground running.  Next, we will hear from Debra Mansillo, Vice President of Industry Relations & International Markets for Destination Ontario, on Winning Consumer Confidence, including examples of their consumer marketing campaigns. Finally, we will hear from Michele Harris, Director, Economic & Community Development for the Municipality of Grey Highlands, will explain how tourism businesses and municipalities can work together to address the key points that were addressed throughout the rest of the panel discussion.

Moderator:  Beth Potter, Chief Executive Officer, Tourism Industry Association of Ontario


  • Chris Bloore, Director of Policy and Government Affairs, Tourism Industry Association of Ontario
  • Janet O’Connell, Executive Director, Muskoka Tourism
  • Debra Mansillo, Vice President of Industry Relations & International Marketing, Destination Ontario
  • Michele Harris, Director, Economic & Community Development, Municipality of Grey Highlands
10:05 a.m. – 10:15 a.m. Health Break
10:15 a.m. – 11:15 a.m. Up to Speed: Ontario’s Broadband & Cellular Action Plan

Broadband capacity has always been an important matter and COVID-19 has only exacerbated this problem. This session examines what initiatives and programs community leaders have established in their community to overcome some of the trials and tribulations of bad internet connectivity.

Economic developers are aware that having strong internet connectivity is vital for any community’s success. It determines the following things: whether you will land that investment opportunity with a company looking to locate in your community; if homeschooling and remote learning is an option in your community; the possibility of working remotely and helping smaller businesses go online. In some cases, inadequate internet connection can deter tourists from wanting to visit and stay.

Come out to this session and learn about some of the initiatives and programs put in by top community leaders to address bandwidth. 

Moderator:  AJ Wray, President, Town and Gown Association of Ontario


  • Kelly Elliott, Deputy Mayor, Municipality of Thames
  • George Bridge, Mayor, Town of Minto
  • Jonathan Hofeller, Vice President of Starlink and Commercial Sales, SpaceX
11:15 a.m. – 11:20 a.m. Health Break
11:20 a.m. – 12:05 a.m. TrilliumGIS: A Platform for Sustainable Asset- and Capability-Mapping?

It is important for economic development professionals to have a comprehensive understanding of business assets and capabilities in their jurisdiction. This, however, is often easier said than done. In this session, the Trillium Network for Advanced Manufacturing will present their approach to asset- and capability-mapping, which is designed to help stakeholders leverage internal resources, manage costs, and develop and sustain institutional knowledge.

Moderator:  Kate Burns Gallagher, Executive Director, Economic Development, Western Ontario Wardens’ Caucus

Presenter:  Brendan Sweeney, Managing Director, Trillium Network for Advanced Manufacturing

Presented by


9:00 a.m. – 9:05 a.m. Welcome
9:05 a.m. – 10:05 a.m.

Looking over the Border: Opportunities to EvolveON with CUSMA
This session will examine how Ontario can leverage itself from the opportunities presented by CUSMA. Learn more about what CUSMA and the impacts of COVID-19 on cross border trade. 

Moderator:  Daniel Ujczo, AMCHAM CANADA


  • Ross Prusakowski, Manager and Principal Economist, Export Development Canada
  • Flavio Volpe, President of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association
  • Aylin Lusi, Vice-President, Public Affairs, UPS Canada

Presented by

10:05 a.m. – 10:20 a.m. Ministerial Highlight 

The Honourable V. Fedeli, Minister, Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade

10:20 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. Health Break
10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

Evolution in Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace
The 2020 Virtual EDCO Conference invites you to take part in the Diversity and Inclusion workplace session.

Join our experts for an engaging conversation and gain a better understanding of what diversity and inclusion is in the workplace as well as ways in which we can become more aware of our surroundings.  Workplace diversity is a goal that all organizations strive to achieve.  Learn how diversity can benefit an organization and how inclusion can make all employees more comfortable and productive in the workplace.

Moderator:  Heather Madden, Strategic Initiatives Coordinator, County of Brant


  • Rajbir Sian, Senior Economic Development Officer, Town of Oakville 
  • Jason Felix, Trade and Investment Specialist, Ontario Ministry of Energy, Northern Development & Mines


9:00 a.m. – 9:05 a.m. Welcome
9:05 a.m. – 10:05 a.m.

Is Real Estate Still King???
Location, location, location has long been the real estate mantra driving property investment around the world. 

One of the key aspects of a desirable location is the traffic, both pedestrian and vehicular, that is in proximity to the property.  However, the current Work From Home mandate being driven by pandemic-induced public health measures has resulted in substantial shifts in where people work and, perhaps more importantly, where they spend.  Pandemic restrictions have increased the amount of online purchases that are being made, accelerating a trend that was already well underway. 

With increasing costs and decreasing revenues being experienced in brick and mortar locations, closures are starting to increase.  Office real estate is sure to be affected by the increasing amount of companies that are going virtual or reducing requirements to work from the office. 

What do these changes mean for office, retail and industrial space and investments in a post-pandemic world?  What are the opportunities nestled within these changes? 

This session will explore these questions and more, including potential impacts on communities, both large and small, as well as on community building efforts of Economic Developers. 

Moderator:  Cephas Panschow, Development Commissioner, Town of Tillsonburg


  • Bill Argeropoulos, Principal and Practice Leader, Research (Canada), Avison Young
  • Chris Rickett, Director, Municipal and Stakeholder Relations, Municipal Property Assessment Corporation
  • Brennan Kenny, Manager of Economic Development, Town of Collingwood
10:05 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.

Health Break

10:15 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.

Positioning Ontario’s Workforce for Recovery in Evolving Times
How can the labour force keep pace with rapidly changing trends in the workplace?  Labour market gaps have been both accelerated and created by the recent pandemic.  A lack of skilled trades, decline of service and retail industry and the disproportionate impact of COVID on women in the workplace forces us to reconsider how LED professionals and policy makers can facilitate equitable participation in a labour market that fits within the needs of a transforming and recovering economy.

Moderator:  Kadie Ward, Commissioner, Pay Equity Office of Ontario


  • Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development 
  • Rocco Rossi, President and Chief Executive Officer, Ontario Chamber of Commerce
  • Louise Taylor Green, Chief Executive Officer, Human Resources Professional Association (HRPA)

Presented by:


Presented by:
9:00 a.m. – 10:05 a.m. Welcome
9:05 a.m. – 10:05 a.m.

Throwing out the rule book: Policy development for the “new normal”
If COVID has taught us anything, it’s that the rigidity of our corporate policies, procedures and rules is unnecessary and no longer representative of our evolving nature. In government, we’ve seen a number of creative policy amendments initiated to support businesses as they struggle to survive the impacts of COVID. This panel will highlight the innovative ways in which government and business development professionals have either maximized flexibility or completely rewritten the rulebook during COVID, and examine how we can continue to leverage this flexibility to reduce red-tape and create more innovative and flexible policy frameworks.  

Moderator:  Laura Thompson, Senior Manager, Business Development, City of Orillia


  • Rob Adams, Chief Administrative Officer, Town of Whitchurch Stouffville
  • Ashleigh Weeden, Rural Futurist
  • Tom Kaszas, Director, Red Tape Policy and Business Relief Branch, Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade
10:05 a.m. – 10:15 a.m. Health Break
10:15 a.m. – 11:15 a.m. Strengthening Municipalities Through Energy Choices
Join this dynamic and engaging panel discussion to learn how innovative electricity projects are addressing local energy needs and priorities.Municipal economic development staff work hard to ensure local businesses and communities have the right environment and resources to thrive.  The Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) is a not-for-profit provincial agency that works closely with economic development officers and other municipal staff to understand the future needs of municipalities and their residents.  We engage in long-term planning to ensure adequate electricity resources are available to meet the demands of businesses and communities.  Your municipality may be eligible for funding to support an innovative local energy project. 

Hear perspectives from municipalities and local businesses from across the province about their energy initiatives being undertaken.

Presenter: Candice Trickey, Director, Corporate Affairs, IESO

Moderator: Pat Lo, Senior Manager – Partnerships in Innovation, Research, & Development, IESO


  • Erika Diamond, VP, Customer Solutions, EnergyHub
  • Summer Stevenson, Sustainability Coordinator, Earthcare, City of Thunder Bay
  • Guido Van Het Hof, President and General Manager, Great Northern Hydroponics


Presented by:
9:00 a.m. – 9:05 a.m. Welcome
9:05 a.m. – 10:05 a.m.

Leadership in Times of Disaster – Mayor’s Panel
There is no playbook for leadership when the stakes are high, and there’s certainly no playbook for what to do in the face of a global pandemic.  The current situation poses an enormous challenge for leaders across our province.  Leadership in action and the impact that the presence of leadership in situations like these can make is critical to our recovery. 

Moderator:  Susan M. Gardner, CEO, Editor & Publisher Municipal World


  • Jeff Lehman, Mayor of Barrie
  • Diane Therrien, Mayor of Peterborough
  • David Bailey, Mayor of Brant County
10:05 a.m. – 10:15 a.m. Health Break
10:15 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.

Personal Leadership Strategies

Ideas and inspiration about mental health, personal growth and best business practices to build confidence and develop leadership skills. 

Presenter:  Sophie Perreault, Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer, Farm Credit Canada

11:15 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Conference Series Wrap-Up:EvolveON with Janice Stein
Catch up with Janice Stein as she reflects on all that has happened since January 20th when we first gathered for EDCO’s six-week conference series.  From the world’s changing political landscape to the pandemic outlook, Ms. Stein will share her thoughts on these and other global events and how they will shape how economic developers design their rebuilding strategies to EvolveON!
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