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REF NO.: 180

SUBJECT: Conference to focus on economic development benefits from the oil and gas industry
DATE: May 9, 2007

Despite recent impacts of oil and gas development on the provincial economy, Newfoundlanders and Labradorians still do not consider the industry as a priority for growing the provincial economy.
Memorial University’s Leslie Harris Centre for Regional Policy and Development and the Oil and Gas Development Partnership are hoping to change that mindset with an initiative aimed at bringing together community leaders, representatives of economic development groups, oil companies, the supply and service community, business groups, labour, governments and academe.
A conference, titled Economic Development Benefits of the Oil and Gas Industry in Newfoundland and Labrador is being held Wednesday, May 16, 2007, at the Delta Hotel in St. John’s from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. This conference is designed to enable information sharing, debate and education on opportunities for economic development benefits from the oil and gas industry in the province.
 “Very often, stakeholders mistakenly believe the industry is limited to St. John’s, will produce revenues for governments but not economic development and is short-term,” said Dr. Rob Greenwood, director of the Leslie Harris Centre.
“By bringing industry and community stakeholders together, we aim to inform both sides as to the opportunities and challenges for maximizing economic development benefits in all areas of the province.”
Kathy Dunderdale, provincial minister of Natural Resources, is the keynote speaker for the conference, and will discuss the province’s energy future and offshore petroleum. Dr. Axel Meisen, president and vice chancellor of Memorial University, will discuss the university’s role in industry-related economic development and Tony MacKay, an expert on the Scottish and Norwegian experience in maximizing economic development from the industry will speak on lessons that can inform efforts in this province. In addition, Ian Atkinson, of the Oil and Gas Development Partnership; Wade Locke, from the Department of Economics at Memorial University; and Mark Shrimpton of Jacques Whitford, will discuss the potential and experience in Newfoundland and Labrador, and a panel of municipal and industry leaders will give their views of the experience on the ground.
“This is an opportunity for municipal, regional development and business leaders from throughout the province to meet with large and small companies in the oil and gas industry to learn about ways that business and economic development is already happening, and to explore new opportunities to make the most of the industry,” said Dr. Greenwood. “The key to the conference will be the afternoon sessions which will allow participants to debate what we are currently doing to foster economic development from the oil and gas industry, what else could we be doing, and who needs to do it.”
            The Harris Centre and the OGDP will draw on the conclusions from these sessions and produce a report capturing recommendations for moving forward.  
This report will be shared with industry, community and government stakeholders, as well as the university, to inform actions moving forward. Media agencies are encouraged to send representatives. For further information on registering for the conference, please contact Louise Green, Oil and Gas Development Partnership, Memorial University, at (709) 737-4519, fax (709) 737-3047, e-mail ogdp@mun.ca or visit www.mun.ca/ogdp.

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