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Memorial-led research project inspires CNA SIFE team to get social

SIFE Clarenville team member Beaton Winsor interviews curling president Pam Sullivan.


By Rebecca Cohoe

Last week, SIFE teams from both Memorial and College of the North Atlantic, travelled to Toronto to participate in the Canadian Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) national championships.

While the competition in Toronto was fierce (just because these teams are from Newfoundland and Labrador doesn't mean they each don't want to win!), collaboration took place between Memorial and the college.

This collaboration was exemplified in CNA SIFE Clarenville's project, called It's All White Here in Clarenville.

All White Here was a multimedia communications campaign designed to highlight winter tourism related businesses in the Clarenville area. The students, about 20 in total, created a series of video blogs and podcasts, and used social media outlets Twitter, Facebook and YouTube to share them with potential visitors and local residents.

The idea for the project came to CNA business instructor Paul Tilley after reviewing a report from The Social Dynamics of Economic Performance: Innovation and Creativity in City Regions, a major research project led by Dr. Robert Greenwood, director of the Harris Centre, investigating the elements that contribute to strong, sustainable regions.

The Clarenville element of the study (St. John's, Corner Brook and Labrador City were also targeted regions) was led by Ken Carter of the Rural Secretariat. In his report, Mr. Carter suggests that "a critical component of greater innovation in the Clarenville region will involve developing stronger knowledge circulation through local and non-local social networks."

Already a social media buff, Mr. Tilley brought the idea back to the students of CNA's SIFE team. "The students were all over it like nothing else," he said. "They saw the potential in this, and they really latched onto it.

"Each week they produced a video that had to do with an aspect of winter tourism, be it skiing, be it Winter Carnival," explained Mr. Tilley. "We covered events, and businesses in the town that catered to specific aspects of winter tourism. The students took charge of much of the process, from setting up interviews, and interviewing community members, to editing the videos, to sharing them online.

"A lot of people don't understand the potential of social media, especially in rural Newfoundland and Labrador," Mr. Tilley said. "However, our demonstration project showed how it could be used to benefit regional development. At the end of it, we had a lot of businesses who said, 'We want to be involved in this.' They started to see that it works and that it's relatively easy to do."

Along with helping to expose local businesses and events, working on the project was also beneficial to the students.

"This project served a dual purpose. First of all, it got the students out in the community. They set up all the contacts, and second, from a business perspective, it broadened their appeal to a larger base," said Mr. Tilley.

According to Mr. Tilley, sharing research between the education institutions of the province just makes sense. "SIFE teams like ours are always looking for new projects that satisfy some identified need, when you look at a report like the one that Ken and the others have done, it documents that communication is a challenge. That fact inspired our project – it was a challenge that we feel could be overcome, and it presented an opportunity for us to demonstrate a relatively new way to overcome it.

"They've identified the criteria we need for success; we're putting it in place," concluded Mr. Tilley.

Please stay tuned for more information about the Social Dynamics of Economic Performance research project: the final report from the project is expected to be released through the Harris Centre before the summer. You can view the SIFE team's videos at the Clarenville Facebook page. (