Green and white sign which reads "Come in, we're open"The Norfolk County Economic Recovery Task Force was formed to help develop a strategy to assist the local economy in recovering from the significant impact of COVID-19.

Made up of residents with a diverse set of backgrounds and skills, the task force meets regularly to identify the key issues impacting local businesses, garner community feedback, assess potential funding opportunities and brainstorm ways to support the local economy.

 

Members

Carl Atkinson, Chair

Carl was raised on a tobacco farm right here in Norfolk County.

In 1987 he and his wife formed C & R Atkinson Farm which grew tobacco, shitake mushrooms and ginseng. He worked as an auditor for the CanAgPlus Canada GAP On-Farm Food Safety Program, and was a member of the Norfolk County Agricultural Advisory Board and sat on the President’s council advising the Premier of Ontario on agricultural related issues.

He is a past chairman and currently a director and chair of research on the Ontario Ginseng Growers Association board which he has sat on since 2000. He was a director on the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association and while growing ginseng today he works extensively with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, Universities, and private industry researching many ginseng issues on his farm.

 

Anthony Massi

Tony has been a resident of Norfolk my whole life and working for both the Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union in Brantford and with Fanshawe College in Norfolk for the past ten years.

Through his experiences with Laurier, he has seen a community re-invent and re-introduce itself to its residents in Brantford through the prioritizing of progressive, strategic thinking, and community involvement.

Tony is really excited to bring these experiences and passion for this community to this group.

Claire Senko

Claire is artistic producer/ program director at the Old Town Hall, a multidisciplinary arts centre in Waterford.

Her passions are community animation, and presenting live performing arts events, with an intense focus on maintaining core values that embrace diversity, inclusion and hospitality. Bringing world-class entertainment to her small venue over the past decade has been a point of great, personal pride.

Claire sits on the Ontario Presents board of directors, and within the organization, co-curates the Small Stages touring theatre cohort. She’s written and directed several children’s musical theatre productions and received the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medal for her work with children in the arts.

Fun fact: Claire was a producer of the Gentlemen of the Road street fair, during the Mumford and Sons stopover in Simcoe, and is herself a performer and musician, albeit, now enjoying time behind the scenes much more than her time in the spotlight.

Michelle Kloepfer

 

Michelle manages International Sales and Special Projects at Titan Trailers Inc., manufacturer of state-of-the-art semi-trailers. She earned her Honours Business Administration degree in Economics at the University of Toronto – Innis College.

She is also a co-owner and operator of Cranberry Creek, a picturesque event venue in the small hamlet of Lynedoch. Michelle is the chair of Norfolk County’s Tourism and Economic Development Advisory Board.

We are fortunate to get a two for one deal in having Michelle as a member of this taskforce because her dad Mike will be her sounding board and additional guide.

Trish Fournier

Trish graduated with Honours Bachelor of Business Degree from Wilfrid Laurier University. She is also a graduate of the agricultural Executive Development Program of the George Morris Centre, now the Agri-Food Management Excellence corporation. This program is a mini-MBA geared completely toward agriculture that physically took place all the way from Nova Scotia to Vancouver, so that participants got a full perspective of agriculture in Canada.

For over 20 years she was in the leadership of Lake Erie Farms Inc. – the last 13 years as the CEO. In the early years, Lake Erie Farms was the largest tobacco producer in the province. They later diversified into 2 separate greenhouse operations growing English cucumbers, lettuce and microgreens. This business was sold last May. For 7 of those years she was a co-owner, the President and General Manager of a tobacco producer corporation that grew over 500 acres.

Trish is currently the Chair of the Board of ACC- Agriculture Credit Corporation. She has sat on this board for over 5 years. ACC is a not-for-profit farm organization offering up to $700 million dollars yearly in low cost operating loans to agricultural producers in three provinces.

Formerly, she was a director on the Ontario Flue-Cured Tobacco Growers Board for 9 years and a committee person for 6 years on the Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers Board.

Trish now runs her own senior management advisory firm providing expert advice and management services to small and medium businesses that can benefit from the knowledge, experience and network that someone such as her can provide, but are not in need of a full-time hire. Further details can be found on her website, LinkedIn page or resume.

 

Staff lead: Chris Garwood – [email protected]

 

Updates

In mid-October the Taskforce initiated an outreach out to various Norfolk County Boards, Chambers, and BIAs, seeking input on high priorities for immediate economic recovery actions at the County-level. Based on the feedback that was received, the Taskforce developed the Norfolk County Economic Recovery Plan, which was passed by Council in December 2020.  The Economic Recovery Taskforce will oversee implementation of the Recovery Plan, with the support of several subcommittees that will focus on specific sections of the plan.

As the implementation moves forward, the Taskforce continues to seek project ideas that can support business recovery and building future business resilience against the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

 

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Economic Recovery Plan