Regional conference brings together hundreds of Eastern Ontario reps


As municipalities grapple with a tight labour market, supply chain bottlenecks, and the challenges of post-pandemic economic recovery, the Ontario East Municipal Conference is making a comeback to its original in-person format after two pared-down virtual years.

Opening Sept. 14 in Cornwall at the former NAV Centre, OEMC is the largest annual regional municipal conference east of Toronto and brings together economic development staff and elected officials from 13 counties and 10 separate municipalities, along with business owners and government officials for three days of professional development and networking.

“The goal of OEMC is unique in that it offers the opportunity to hear from experts on the various topics we’re involved with, whether it’s attracting new investment, developing workforces, building tourism, even some technical issues that municipalities are interested in,” says Jay Amer, executive director of the Ontario East Economic Development Commission, the non-profit organization that organizes the event.

OBJ360 (Sponsored)

“The OEMC is unique from other opportunities for information exchange and networking to the extent the content is focused on Eastern Ontario and the unique challenges we face in this part of the province,” says Malcolm Morris, chief administrative officer with the Town of Smiths Falls.

“It’s nice that it’s a conference focused on Eastern Ontario, the subjects are more attuned to what we’re dealing with in our region,” agrees Melissa Marquardt, economic development manager for Renfrew County.

“It’s the only conference of its kind to focus on Eastern Ontario and is very valuable to attend,” adds Merrickville-Wolford Mayor Doug Struthers. “While not every topic on the agenda is relevant to every municipality, it’s also a great opportunity to network and share experiences with people who share the same challenges.”

For Tara Kirkpatrick, economic development manager with the County of Stormont Dundas and Glengarry, the challenge is around rural education.

“Rural schools are at higher risk of closure than metropolitan areas, but the closure of these schools tends to have a more resounding impact on not just the students, but the entire local economy and community,” she says.

For the past two years, the conference has been held virtually, which meant some features had to be abandoned.

“The biggest thing we didn’t have was our very popular exhibit hall, where people come and learn and visit with exhibitors. So that’s back and we have a very diverse group of exhibitors — businesses and government agencies, non-profits and other organizations, so we’re back on track and really happy after two years,” says Amer.

The conference kicks off with opening remarks from local politicians followed by a keynote address from actor/comedian Bill Carr. Once the ice is broken, the conference continues with topics ranging from housing to Internet connectivity to tourism.

The OEMC is being hosted at the DEV Hotel and Conference Centre, formerly known as the NAV Centre. 

Never miss a story. Get OBJ’s daily update in your inbox every Monday to Friday. Click here to subscribe.

Get our email newsletters

Get up-to-date news about the companies, people and issues that impact businesses in Ottawa and beyond.

By signing up you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. You may unsubscribe at any time.