GUEST BLOG: Creating a community around entrepreneurs


GUEST BLOG: Creating a community around entrepreneurs

I’ve spent the last eight years developing, leading, and driving a brand for the region:  Bay of Quinte. 

It’s been a lot of work, albeit very rewarding when we see the results of this work being great partnerships in the region, and a brand that now has great prominence, and governance that is being developed as we speak.

The Bay of Quinte marketing plan by Agency the Engagers even just won a major national award: The 2016 Toronto ACE Award for Marketing Communications Campaign of the Year for their work on the ‘Bay of Quinte: Isn’t It Time’ campaign.

My vision for this region is a big one and started eight years ago.  My vision is a 20-year vision to inspire growth, so that my children, Jack and Patrick, and your children and grandchildren will want to stay in this great region, and will be able get, and even create their own jobs here.

My vision is to have a region where others can see themselves, and one that is known nationally as one of the best in Canada. 

QuinteVation, launched this week, is the most recent asset that I believe will help this vision become a reality.

QuinteVation will unite the Bay of Quinte Region as a community of entrepreneurial spirit, thinking, and action.  Its goal is to create a culture of entrepreneurialism and innovation in the region, and to bring together entrepreneurs: Thinkers, dreamers, and doers, to create the next best thing in our region.

It is a Non-Governmental-Organization, lead by entrepreneurs who believe that entrepreneurs create jobs, who will create an innovation network with existing organizations and people with the goal to create a great business community in our region around innovation.

It will create a desire, around the Bay of Quinte brand, for people to want to come to the Bay of Quinte Region and start a business, or work for an entrepreneur who has created jobs here.

It fills many holes in strategies we have here in the region.

We are able right now, for instance, to attract retirees here in droves.  We have great healthcare, we are a great distance from three of Canada’s major centres, we have great affordable housing, and we are surrounded by water, 1,200 km of shoreline all told. 

We are a fantastic tourism region.  We have recently just launched a great Bay of Quinte Immigration portal through Bay of Quinte Living.

Real growth will come from young families, young families of new Canadians, and the Bay of Quinte Immigration Portal is part of the strategy for this.   

But we have a lot of work to do.

Our growth rate for the region has been dismal; according to Stats Can data from 2001-2011.  Belleville and Quinte West grew only 0.2 per cent a year, while the province was at one per cent.

Growth comes from young families, and young families move to new areas because of jobs.

We already have 1.5 million out-of-town visitors to our region yearly; it is time we started talking to some of those people about starting, relocating, or positioning themselves around jobs in the Bay of Quinte Region, jobs that are created by or around entrepreneurs.

These jobs will be Quintessential in many ways. 

We aren’t going to be the headquarters for the next Google, for instance, but we are specialized in other aggregates such as agriculture and clean energy. 

The Prince Edward County wine industry is an example of that.  Craft Breweries and Cider companies have been clustering in the region as of late, and we have some of the best farms in Ontario, including cheese, dairy, produce, lamb, and poultry.   These wineries have extended to Lennox and Addington, and even to Tweed. 

We are becoming a leader in clean energy with Strathcona Energy Group leading the way in Napanee and Belleville. 

And we have had many home grown businesses and entrepreneurs, all with great ideas. 

To succeed, we will need to create a community around entrepreneurship for the entire region, from Brighton to Napanee, South Hastings to Prince Edward County, something that doesn’t exist today. 

QuinteVation will unite the region under a hub of innovation.  It will create networking around individuals, and organizations.  It will ask entrepreneurs for their opinions, and will communicate with partners routinely. 

Lastly, it will work hard on the culture it aims to create in the region for inclusiveness, to celebrate individual successes, and to allow failure in business to be a natural cycle of entrepreneurship.  

It will bring together angel investors and venture capitalists to invest in Quinte region businesses. 

To succeed, we will need board members, mentors, and those with the passion we share for this venture.

If you’re inspired, we want to hear from you.  Contact Mary Doyle, one of our Community Builders, at 

QuinteVation is a bold step for Bay of Quinte, but one, that I believe, fits within the next 20 year vision of this region.

Ryan Williams is former chair of Bay of Quinte Tourism, chair of QuinteVation and executive vice president of Williams Hotels

Read More: Opinion, Guest Blogs, Quinte



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