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EDCO 2022 Professional Development Regional Event - Thunder Bay

  • 24 Nov 2022
  • 9:00 AM - 4:30 PM
  • Valhalla Hotel & Conference Centre, 1 Valhalla Inn Rd, Thunder Bay, ON
  • 34

Registration is closed

Regional networking opportunity is coming to Thunder Bay!

Take advantage of this opportunity to meet peers in your region and learn about trends in economic development that are effecting your municipality. Session topics include:

EDCO Regional Economic Development Professional Development Event

Northern Region

Thunder Bay, Ontario

November 24, 2022 

Valhalla Hotel & Conference Centre

1 Valhalla Inn Rd. Thunder Bay

Register Here


9:00 AM      Welcome

9:15 AM      Keynote Speaker Dr. Livio Di Matteo, Professor of Economics, Lakehead University

Livio Di Matteo is Professor of Economics at Lakehead University in  Thunder Bay, Ontario, and specializes in public policy and  finance, health economics, and economic history. Recent research examines value for money in health-care spending and the drivers and sustainability of health-care spending;  fiscal and regional economic history; and the historical evolution of economic inequality in Canada and internationally. Prof. Di Matteo is a member of the Canadian Institute for Health Information National Health Expenditure Advisory Panel, a Senior Fellow of the Fraser Institute and a Senior Research Fellow of the International Centre for Economic Analysis.  He is a contributor to Fraser Forum, the Fraser Institute’s blog,  The, as well as his own policy blog, Northern Economist. His op-eds have appeared in newspapers across Canada including the Globe and Mail, National Post, Financial Post, Toronto Star, Winnipeg Free Press, Waterloo Region Record, MacLean’s and the Hamilton Spectator. He has been listed in Canada’s Who’s Who since 1995 and holds a Ph.D. from McMaster University.

9:45 AM      Current and Future Trends of Economic Development & FDI

Northern Ontario’s economy contributes greatly to Ontario’s GDP and offers untapped potential for growth.  This panel will look at trends in immigration, Foreign Direct Investment and Natural Resource developments that are essential to the growth of our economy

Speaker Profiles:

Piero Pucci is presently the Trade and Investment Specialist with the Trade and Investment Unit at the Ministry of Northern Development where he recently joined.

He Served as Supervisor of Economic Development with the Thunder Bay Community Economic Development Commission for over 10 years.

He has over 20 years experience in business development, site selection and the financial services sector. Piero was successful in attracting several new retail and food industry investments to the city and led the community’s successful application to the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot Program. Piero has a Political Studies and History degree from Lakehead University and holds additional certificates and graduate courses in international studies, trade and project management.

Stacey Platt has over seventeen years of experience in working with newcomers to Canada. Her interest in immigration policy began in 2006 when she was an International Student Recruitment Officer, working primarily in Asia, Mexico and the USA, for the University of Toronto. In 2014, Stacey acquired her accreditation as a Registered Immigration Consultant of Canada and in 2017 relocated to Thunder Bay with her family, from Southern Ontario. Stacey is now a self-proclaimed Thunder Bay convert and is an active promoter of all that Northwestern Ontario has to offer.

Andrew Kane is a well respected and knowledgeable professional in the Natural Resources sector. For most of his career, he worked for Confederation College in various positions. Most recently, he worked for the Provincial Ministry of Northern Development of Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry in the Mines and Minerals Division as a Mineral Exploration and Mine Development Consultant.

Growing up in Thunder Bay, Andrew has a strong passion for the North. Through his work in economic development, he looks forward to strengthening the natural resource sector in Thunder Bay and Northwestern Ontario.

10:45 AM   Break

11:00 AM   Session 2: Indigenous Economic Development

Join Moderator Gord Knowles as he engages in a conversation on Indigenous economic development with Jason Thompson.  Jason is a strong advocate for inclusion and supporting opportunities for Indigenous businesses to start up, grow and prosper.

Speaker Profile:

Jason Thompson is a proud member of the Red Rock Indian Band, Jason Thompson brings a wealth of knowledge to the Superior Strategies Inc. and Warrior Engineering Ltd teams. With over 20 years of business and management experience, Mr. Thompson has proven to be a skilled executive and visionary entrepreneur.

Jason sits as the President of both Superior Strategies Inc. as well as Warrior Engineering Ltd, both are majority Indigenous Owned and Operated Businesses, and have demonstrated continued growth year after year. The never setting and opportunistic traits, are also evident in the recent launch of his very own Warrior Brand, which includes a variety of PPE, Work Wear and most recently Warrior Apparel.

Throughout his career Jason has always demonstrated strong leadership skills and has realized the importance of building and maintaining a successful team. Never settling, collaborative, out of the box thinker are a few adjectives that can be used to explain Jason. A proud father of three, who recently welcomed his second Grand Child, Jason and his wife high Tara (High School Sweethearts) are celebrating 26 Years of Marriage, ultimately linking his success to his strong family support.

Jason remains a very strong advocate for meaningful participation of Indigenous People and Businesses on a local and National level.

12:15 PM    Lunch

Break & Networking

1:00 PM      Session 3: Urban Centres and Regional Economic Development

Downtowns are vital for the health of small and northern communities.  This panel will provide unique perspectives on the programs and successes of building strong downtowns and why good planning and aesthetics is important.

Speaker Profiles:

Guy Walter is an Urban Designer and Landscape Architect who knows the importance of putting people first in design, particularly when planning communities. For more than 25 years he has worked throughout North America, the Middle East, and Asia, advancing the business case for large-scale planning and urban design that is culturally, environmentally, economically, and socially responsible. Through the exploration of the complex living systems of our built environments, Guy sees how we can formulate new possibilities for urban renewal, waterfronts, parklands, transformative neighbourhoods, and mixed-use hubs to create multi-faceted, experiential public space. As Part of the City’s Parks and Open Space Planning Team, Guy works with the public and stakeholders to articulate a clear vision and strategy that responds to each project’s needs with an emphasis on integrating flexible and robust infrastructure and ecosystems.

Ryan Moore is a life long resident of Thunder Bay, “born and bred, here ‘till I’m dead” and loves to find ways to make his city a great place to live.

As Development Office for Small Business, he manages the Thunder Bay & District Entrepreneur Centre, part of the Thunder Bay Community Economic Development Commission where he works day in and out with entrepreneurs, whether aspiring or existing, to help them with their successes.

When not in the office cultivating the entrepreneurial ecosystem in our region Ryan can be found playing his bagpipes (he’s the current president of the 110 year old pipe band:  THE Pipes & Drums of Thunder Bay) or helping out with the local Minor Football Association.

Kara Pratt, a lover of local and giving back. Kara spent years fundraising for various projects in her home town of Kemptville, Ontario. Doing this she learned about the power of connection and community. She moved to Thunder Bay, Ontario to finish university and decided to stay. Kara has experience in human resources, communication, sales, marketing and content creation. She thrives on understanding the bigger picture and fulfills all of her work with tenacity with her direction is based on appropriate data and information. As the Waterfront District BIA Executive Director, Kara is easily accessible to her businesses and can normally be found chatting with business owners and staff. She has a HBComm from Lakehead University, a college diploma in Business Sales and Marketing from Loyalist College, as well as a Diploma in Marketing with a minor in Human Resources from Algonquin College. In all honesty, her real experience comes from what her kindergarten teacher referred to as her “delightful” and tenacious personality. Kara always organizing behind the scenes to make big things happen against the odds (and pushback from naysayers).  Her efforts with the Waterfront District BIA are where her life education, and heart come together and get work done. 

2:15 PM      Break 2

2:30 PM      Session 4: Agri-Food Growing Sector in the City

Agri business offers growing opportunities in northern communities.  Join this diverse panel as they discuss perspectives and successes with forest harvesting, market gardening and the importance of connecting local foods to a strong culinary taste of place.

Speaker Profiles:

Kevin Belluz: After completing a B.Sc. (Hons) in Plant Biology at Guelph as a President's Scholar, Kevin worked in Alberta and England for a greenhouse and horticultural supply company before settling down on the family farm in Thunder Bay as the third generation owner in 2001. The 140 ha farm employs over 50 all local staff in the peak summer months to produce 6 ha of strawberries, 3 ha of sweet corn, 2 ha of root crops, 2 ha of pumpkins and a broad range of market garden vegetables and rotation crops including cereals and legumes. They have a small, modern 700m2 gutter-connect greenhouse heated primarily with a 150 kW woodchip boiler growing vegetable transplants, salad greens, tomatoes and cucumbers grown in organic soil. The farm production is managed sustainably using new technology and information together with traditional techniques to maximize biodiversity, soil health, and the long-term viability of the business. Belluz Farms markets roughly 90% of their product direct to the public on farm, at farmers markets and through the online food hub they co-founded in 2010, Superior Seasons which now includes over 150 producers as well as a bricks and mortar store.  The remaining product is sold wholesale to local grocers and distributors.  Kevin's partner in business and life is Jodi Belluz and they have 2 children.

Billy Alexander is a globally renowned and trained Indigenous chef, tourism ambassador, cultural pundit, social advocate, and The Director of Programs for Culinary Tourism Alliance. His illustrious accomplishments and positions include recurring National Television appearances, Founding Chair of Indigenous Culinary of Associated Nations; Culinary Development Chef for WestJet; recipient of Canadian Culinary Excellence Award; Calgary’s Top 40 Under 40; Advisory board Not 9 to 5 Hospitality Mental Health; as well the former National Culinary Strategist for Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada, and current mentor to countless youth. Billy grew up with food being synonymous with Indigenous communities. He first learned to cook from his mother with ingredients that were provided solely from the land. He views the land as the “original grocery store.” He formed some of his fondest memories, gathered around food with family and community. As the Director of Programs Billy uses his vast knowledge and experience in both food tourism and agritourism to oversee the Feast On® Certification Program as well as the Cultural Culinary Communities Programs.

Sean Murray is the owner of Canada West Maple Products which operates a maple syrup operation in the Nor'Wester Mountains south of Thunder Bay. Canada West is also a distributor and value added product processor that uses syrup from a network of other Northern Ontario maple syrup farms. Recently, the company has also purchased the Holsum Bakery of Thunder Bay and hopes to convert that business into a regional local food distribution service. 

3:45 PM      Question & Answer Period from the day

Register Here

*Registration Cancellation will receive a full refund less a $50.00 administration fee*


Valhalla Hotel & Conference Centre

November 23, 2022

Room Rate: $159.00 (+fees and taxes)

Attendees will make individual room reservations directly to the Hotel reservations department. Individuals may call (807) 577-1121, toll free number. To ensure receiving the special group rate, attendees must identify the group name when making the reservations. All individual reservations must be guaranteed with a credit card.


*Registration Cancellation will receive a full refund less a $50.00 administration fee*

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