May 17, 1996
(Development and Rural Renewal)
Government support for regional economic development zones
Judy Foote, Minister of Development and Rural Renewal, indicated today that government is firmly committed to regional economic development through the 19 zones.
Ms. Foote said: "We are now moving aggressively to the implementation stage of the regional economic development boards including the financing of regional economic initiatives." The Canada/Newfoundland Cooperation Agreement for Strategic Regional Diversification (SRDA) is supporting this effort financially to the level of $9.7 million in the 1996/97 fiscal year.
Ms. Foote also provided an update on the progress on the Regional Economic Development Boards (REDBs). Nine permanent REDBs have now been elected: three in Labrador and six on the island. Seven others are in the process of establishing their permanent boards. Ms. Foote said the objective is to have all zone boards in place by the end of June.
The minister congratulated the hundreds of volunteers, from many sectors in all parts of the province, who have tirelessly contributed their time and expertise to make this process a reality. "This truly has been a partnership between community groups and the federal and provincial governments," the minister stated, "ushering in a new approach to regional economic development. It will ensure that available resources will be harnessed through a coordinated approach, to enable communities and groups throughout the province to maximize the long-term development activities which can form the basis of rural and regional revitalization."
The minister added that the establishment of the permanent regional economic development boards marks the start of the development phase for the economic zones. Each board will lead the preparation of five-year strategic economic plans for their zones. "While the planning process is crucial to the better integration of scarce resources," Ms. Foote emphasized, "we will not put economic development on hold while plans are being developed. The SRDA will support economic initiatives from development groups around the province, and the regional staff in my department are available to work with clients to develop their ideas and their funding proposals."
Another significant event in the economic zone process will occur from May 23-25 when some 350-400 volunteers and economic development practitioners meet in St. Johnžs for "Your Challenge, Your Future: The Strategic Planning Conference for the New Regional Economic Development." This conference will explore "best practice" in strategic planning and regional economic development. Ms. Foote will kick off the conference Thursday evening with the keynote address.
Contact: Rob Greenwood, (709) 724-1003.