The Eastern-Strait Regional Enterprise Network took another solid step today toward getting the region ready for investment with the launch of its Economic Development Investment Mapper (EDIM) in Sherbrooke, NS. The initiative was conducted in partnership with the Municipality of the County of Antigonish, Municipality of the District of St. Mary’s, Municipality of the District of Guysborough, The Town of Port Hawkesbury and The Town of Antigonish as well as a host of other partners including the Eastern District Planning Commission and Bluejack Consulting Inc.
An Investment Web Map Viewer (i.e. Investment Database) is a tool used to represent many different types of economic development data spatially. For example, if an investor was interested in relocating his/her business to Nova Scotia, they might want to know about transportation routes for products by car, air or port, municipal zoning, access to grid and communication infrastructure or perhaps would want to know about existing aquaculture sites and locations of specific geological minerals. They would probably also want to know about access to healthcare facilities or schools if coming with family.
John Beaton, ESREN CEO, says “our investment web map viewer (often referred to as an investment database), is a project we have been building on since early last year and there is an incredible amount of data that went into this tool from many sources.” Beaton adds “We took on this project with Bluejack Consulting, for a number of reasons: mainly, we wanted to be able to respond quickly to inquiries that come in from potential investors so that we can greatly improve our chances of landing a new business venture in the region.” Beaton notes “if we take too long gathering information and assembling it into a report for an investor, we have likely lost the opportunity”. ESREN has a 3-year strategy in play with 7 focus areas – Investment Readiness is Goal #5. Beaton says “We wanted to build a tool that was very data inclusive and very user-friendly for investors, developers or municipal partners to use.”
“EDIM was designed to be simple to use and interactive” says Chris Turner, President of Bluejack Consulting Inc. who built EDIM with his team. Turner adds “When you land on the ESREN website (www.esren.ca) you can begin using the investment mapper almost immediately with very little training. You can apply many layers of information into one map which you can print off with a report or save to continue working with in the future.”
Most Regional Enterprise Networks in the Province have undertaken some form of investment or land-asset database in an effort to be responsive to investment inquiries. “As a group of Regional Enterprise Networks, we continue to raise our capacity as far as economic data goes and having a good handle on our economic assets is a critical step in being not only responsive but proactive as well” says Beaton.
“Despite the strong results so far, building an economic development web mapper is not straightforward especially with the limits on data availability” says Turner. He notes that “having a provincial data strategy for types and formats of data recorded by all three levels of Government would greatly expand on what powerful tools like EDIM could do in all types of planning.”
As a potential phase two for this project, ESREN plans to look into a Data Acquisition project that will further build on the some of the data gaps. “In the meantime, we are looking forward to putting EDIM to good use and hopefully seeing many community partners using it as well” says Beaton.
Eastern Strait Regional Enterprise Network is accountable to five Municipal Councils (Municipality of the County of Antigonish, Municipality of the District of Guysborough, Municipality of the District of St. Mary’s, Town of Port Hawkesbury, and Town of Antigonish) and the Province of Nova Scotia.
John Beaton, CEO
Eastern-Strait Regional Enterprise Network
Chris Turner, President
BlueJack Consulting Inc.