Since their creation in the 1990s, the province’s Regional Economic Development (RED) Boards have played a crucial role in stimulating and coordinating economic activity, especially in the rural areas of the province. The Boards serve as a vehicle to harness volunteer energies, to establish development priorities and to attract investment. The future of the RED Boards is in jeopardy given both levels of government withdrew their funding earlier this year. RED Boards face an uncertain future, many may soon cease to exist. How will economic development be facilitated in Newfoundland and Labrador in the absence of the RED Boards? Who will take up the task of coordinating development efforts at the local level? Will we rely on existing organizations or do we need to create a replacement for the RED Boards?
Originally from rural Manitoba, Ryan Gibson has a deep intrigue and respect for rural communities, rural people, and the events that shape their futures. Over the past ten years Ryan has been a student, practitioner, researcher, and admirer of rural populations, dynamics, and interactions. Ryan is the President of the Canadian Rural Revitalization Foundation (www.crrf.ca). His interests focus on enhancing the understanding of new forms of governance, regional collaboration, cooperatives, rural philanthropy, and immigration. Since 2002, Ryan has been a researcher with the Rural Development Institute fostering rural community development and community resiliency through research and information on issues unique to rural areas.
Irene Hurley came to Newfoundland from New Brunswick in 1972, with a plan to stay five years. However, marriage, children and a home business changed that plan. She now sits as the Chair of the Heritage Run Tourism Association and the Burin Peninsula Arts Council, while she also sits as a Director of the Eastern Destination Management Organization, Fortune Head Interpretation Centre, Festival of Song and Dance, and Burin Peninsula Rural Secretariat Regional Council. She has also been the owner/operator of Cashel’s Cove Crafts since 1983. Irene has been involved in several projects that have been collaborative efforts of committees, institutions, community councils, not for profits as well as government departments, all of the same mind that together we achieve more.
Robert Keenan has held his current position with MNL since April 2009. He holds a BA (Honours) and MA from Memorial University, and an LLB from the University of New Brunswick. Prior to joining MNL, he worked as a criminal and family law lawyer in Saint John, New Brunswick and Fort McMurray, Alberta. Robert's work with MNL is largely in the realm of regional municipal development. Over the past three years, Robert has worked closely with REDBs in trying to integrate the process of economic development into the priorities of regional municipal development. On the Burin Peninsula, Robert has worked very close with the Schooner Economic Development Corporation in the successful revival of the Burin Peninsula Joint Council.