Excitement about the electric vehicle sector palpable at regional municipal conference


There was a dignified excitement in the air as elected officials, municipal employees and business representatives gathered to network, showcase and learn from one another at the Ontario East Municipal Conference, which wraps up today in Cornwall.

One issue that was top of mind for most delegates was the electric vehicle supply chain industry. More than $6 billion in EV-related investments has been announced for the region in the past few years.

“I think that’s the exciting thing about the EV sector; I think it’s going to continue to roll at a really aggressive level,” said Stephen Paul, director of community and development services for the county of Lennox and Addington.

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With Kingston’s Li-Cycle, an EV battery recycling company, and global giant Umicore’s recent announcement of a first-of-its-kind battery materials production plant being built in Eastern Ontario, there’s a lot of opportunity in the EV landscape.

“So, with Umicore on the upstream and Li-Cycle at the end of life or new life, it gives us an opportunity with companies within the sphere, whether its sub-manufacturers, assembly or any company looking into innovation to fill the gaps,” said Abdul Razak Jendi, investment manager with Kingston economic development.  

It was the first time in two years that the OEMC was held in person and the excitement was palpable. More than 300 delegates gathered at DEV Hotel and Conference Centre in Cornwall, formerly the NAV Centre, for the three-day conference to share ideas, best practices and new initiatives.

“We’re very pleased with the turnout after two years of virtual conferences,” said Jay Amer, executive director of the Ontario East Economic Development Commission, the non-profit organization that organizes the event.

The conference kicked off with welcome remarks from elected officials from the host county Stormont Dundas and Glengarry, but the highlight of the morning presentations was the keynote address from Bill Carr, communications expert and humourist.  

Carr’s presentation managed to parlay a slide deck of pithy aphorisms into a humorous and thought-provoking talk centred on the mental attitudes needed for collaboration and success and the pitfalls that can hamper progress that had attendees laughing and nodding in approval.  

The conference was structured in break-out sessions focused on an array of subjects relevant to economic development in the region, including job creation, immigrant attraction, labour force support, as well as embracing the energy transition both in industry and agriculture, as well as innovation and broadband. 

“It’s a great networking and learning opportunity because it’s all of Eastern Ontario under one roof and the only time we get to meet one on one,” said Melissa Marquardt, economic development manager for Renfrew County.

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