2021 State of the Strait Business Update

State of the Strait Business Update:  March 31st, 2021

That’s a wrap!  The State of the Strait Business Update on March 31st at the Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre was a huge success!  This annual event is a great local networking opportunity that is hosted by the Strait Area Chamber of Commerce and offers local businesses from a variety of sectors an opportunity to share with the audience their plans for 2021 and highlight 2020 accomplishments. This year the panellists discussed how they reshaped their business, how they forged ahead and planned for growth after a year of navigating Covid-19. Thanks to everyone who attended!  We look forward to seeing you again next year!

Emcee:  Bob MacEachern, Maple Signs & Engraving


Detailed Itinerary:
8:00am – Light Breakfast Opens
8:40am – Welcome
8:45am – Breakfast Remarks from Terry Smith, Destination Cape Breton
9:05am – Panel 1:  Reshaping Business
9:50am – Panel 2:  Industry Forging Ahead
10:40am – Break
11:00am – Panel 3:  Building for Growth
11:45am – Lunch Keynote with Ken Shea, East Coast Credit Union
12:20pm – Closing Remarks & Networking



Lunch Keynote

Nova Scotia’s Economic Recovery

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Ken Shea

East Coast Credit Union, President and CEO

Ken Shea has been President and CEO of East Coast Credit Union since July 2011East Coast Credit Union has $980M in assets, 18 branches and serves over 42,000 members across Nova Scotia. Ken received his Bachelor of Commerce from Dalhousie University and has an MBA from UNB. Ken holds a CFP designation and has appeared as a weekly guest on the radio talk show called Money Matters for over 5 years. He has served on several boards and is currently serving with Credit Union Financial Management as Vice Chair, the Canadian Credit Union Association as Chair of Governance and League Data Inc as a director. Ken lives in Bedford with his wife and 2 daughters.


Breakfast Remarks

Preview of 2030 Tourism Strategy

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Terry Smith

CEO, Destination Cape Breton Association

Terry Smith is the Chief Executive Officer for Destination Cape Breton Association since 2019 and prior to this was their senior marketing partner for the several years. Terry was the former President and Marketing Strategist for ICON communications, specializing in tourism and has delivered marketing results for such clients as the Destination Cape Breton, Golf Cape Breton, Louisbourg 300, Celtic Heart of North America Co-operative, Cape Breton University, Golf Nova Scotia, Johnson & Johnson Medical Products, among numerous others. He has been a featured speaker at various conferences on topics of tourism marketing and branding. Guest lecturer at Cape Breton University and instructor in Acadia University’s “Get Connected” program. Terry is passionate about helping under privileged children and successfully launched the Hugs for Haitian Kids campaign that raised funds to build a school for Haitian refugee children in the Dominican Republic.

Panel 1:  Reshaping Business


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Sherry MacLeod

Cape Breton Realty, Broker / Owner

Growth in Real Estate

Sherry MacLeod grew up in rural Cape Breton, and has many years of experience promoting Cape Breton Island and rural Nova Scotia. Sherry began her Real Estate career in 1992. She started worked with Prudential MLM Real Estate Sales here in Port Hawkesbury.  By year two she went to work with Cape Breton Realty, and the following year, took her brokers course and became broker/owner of Cape Breton Realty shortly thereafter.  Over the next few years she purchased Prudential MLM Real Estate Sales, and  then Canso Realty.  Currently Cape Breton Realty has 10 sales people covering Cape Breton Island and North Eastern Nova Scotia with three office locations.  Sherry is a volunteer director on the Rural Communities Foundation of NS, as well as a director  with Th St Peters Economic Development Organization.  She is involved in the Canal Landing and Seaside Lobsterfest.

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Chad Munro

Halifax Biomedical Inc, Chief Executive Officer / President 

Switching Product Delivery

Chad is a Biomedical Engineer, P.Eng (St.F.X./TUNS ‘98), who quickly became a global medtech & medical diagnostics entrepreneur. He has experience in the US, EU, Australian and Canadian healthcare markets. He is the Founder and Executive Chairman of Halifax Biomedical Inc (implant fixation diagnostics, spinal diagnostics, and neurosurgery guidance) based in Mabou, Nova Scotia. He is a Past Chair of the Cape Breton Partnership. He is very interested in sustainable rural economic development through knowledge-based, export-oriented businesses. When he’s not working, you can usually find him enjoying the great outdoors with his wife and two daughters.

Rodney MacDonald

Honourable Rodney MacDonald

President, Gaelic College 

Online Course Delivery & Beinn Mhabu Project

Honourable Rodney J. MacDonald served as Nova Scotia’s 26th Premier (2006-2009) while also serving as President of the Executive Council and Minister Responsible for Intergovernmental Affairs. He has held Cabinet Portfolios including Tourism, Culture & Heritage, Minister of Health Promotion, and Immigration and served as the MLA for Inverness from 1999-2009 winning four successive elections. At Present Rodney is President of Colaisde na Gàidhlig | The Gaelic College and its associated campus, Beinn Mhàbu (Mabou Hill College). He has an undergraduate degree from Saint Francis Xavier University, holds a Nova Scotia Teaching Certificate, and completed an Executive Certification in Local Government from Dalhousie University.  Rodney is the Chair of the World Tourism Institute Advisory Council for Cape Breton University, a Board Member for Nova Scotia’s Hosting Committee for the North American Indigenous Games, is a Friends United Initiative Advisor, and has been engaged in recent years with the Strait Area-Western Cape Breton Engage NS Quality of Life Team. He is a former Board Member of the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board, The Strait Area Chamber of Commerce, and Destination Cape Breton.

 Panel 2:  Industry Forging Ahead


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Trent Soholt

Executive Director
Nova Scotia Construction Sector Council

Economic Impact of New Construction

Trent Soholt is the Executive Director of the Nova Scotia Construction Sector Council-ICI (NSCSC) – a not-for-profit organization that collaborates with industry partners to provide human resource solutions and labour market information for Nova Scotia’s industrial, commercial and institutional construction sector.  Working with contractors, labour organizations, training providers, government and industry partners, Trent fosters collaboration, supports innovative approaches to training, career awareness, industry research, strategic planning and encourages advances in technology adoption.  He is a strong advocate for trades and technology and believes the construction sector has a fundamental role in the prosperity of Nova Scotia and Canada.

Allan Eddy

Allan Eddy

Port Hawkesbury Paper – Business Development Manager 

Port Hawkesbury Paper Windfarm Development

Allan Eddy joined Port Hawkesbury Paper in August 2018. Previous to this position, he has served in a senior executive role in four Nova Scotia government departments. As a graduate of the University of New Brunswick , Allan has worked for both Federal and Provincial levels of government, as well as the private sector over the past 37 years. Throughout his career, Allan has been involved with various aspects of policy development, sector issue management, and stakeholder liaison activities. In the last several years he has been deeply involved in change management and sector transition, with a significant focus on innovation and training. At Port Hawkesbury paper he is responsible for business development, community and government relations and strategic forestry issues.

Osborne Burke Pic

Osborne Burke

President of the Nova Scotia Seafood Alliance

Nova Scotia Seafood Alliance Update

Osborne is the General Manager of the Victoria Fisheries Co-Operative, a fisher-owned company located in Neil’s Harbour, Cape Breton. The Cooperative represents over 100 harvesters on a direct and continuing basis, and markets their catch in a whole range of species throughout Canada & Internationally.

Osborne is active in the seafood sector as a leader and in his community as well. Most particularly, he is very enthusiastic about the growth and engagement of the Nova Scotia Seafood Alliance in the days ahead.

Panel 3:  Building for Growth


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Terry Doyle

Chief Administrative Officer, Town of Port Hawkesbury

Town of Port Hawkesbury
Marine Innovation Centre & Waterfront Development

Terry Doyle is currently the Chief Administrative Officer for the Town of Port Hawkesbury, assuming that role in 2016. His Career has included 12 years with the Canadian Armed Forces serving on various bases throughout Canada in progressive Base Construction Engineer positions and later assumed the position as the Facilities Engineer with the Regional Municipality of Waterloo managing the Region’s capital projects.  From Waterloo he moved home to take on the role of Director of Operations with the Strait Regional School Board at the start of the P3 School Construction Program. Terry is a professional engineer graduating from Dalhousie University with a BSc. in Mathematic and a B.Eng. Civil from the Technical University of Nova Scotia. Terry and his wife Debbie have four children one grandchild, soon to be two.

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Amey Beaton

Municipality of the County of Inverness

Municipality of the County of Inverness
Brand and Signature Spaces Project

Amey Beaton is the Tourism Development Coordinator for the Municipality of the County of Inverness and has been in this position for a little over 6 years.  Recipient of the Next Gen Vital Award in 2016, Amey’s passion for Inverness County and its potential for growth in tourism and community development is evident in everything she is involved with.  She works hard at developing good working relationships and creating partnerships in the tourism industry.  Canada’s Musical Coast,  which is Inverness County’s brand, has brought new attention to the region and in turn a strong tourism strategy was developed.  Amey is currently involved in leading working committees aimed at enhancing public spaces, building community brands, wayfinding signage and some streetscape programs that will bring out the best of these communities and assist our visitors in discovering coastal experiences.

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Dan Coffin

Municipality of the County of Victoria
Tourism & Economic Development Officer

Municipality of the County of Victoria
Mountain Bike Strategy

Dan has been working in tourism in Cape Breton for more than 17 years as the General Manager at Silver Dart Lodge, Marketing Manager for Celtic Colours International Festival and Director of Marketing for Destination Cape Breton.  A former Content Marketing consultant, he is Google certified in the areas of Analytics and Adwords and is a social media specialist. Dan is excited to recently join the Municipality of the County of Victoria as their Tourism & Development Officer and works with local tourism groups and businesses to best position the County to reach their best potential as a leader in tourism in Cape Breton and Nova Scotia.

The Hawk