Second year of successes and challenges for RDÉE PEI Inc.

SUMMERSIDE, PEI – June 28, 2012 – “If we calculate the value of all the projects we supported this past year, we see that the economic spinoffs they generated, including both actual cash and in kind, amount to $1,319,432. That’s something to be proud of!” proclaims Martin Marcoux, re-elected president of RDÉE Prince Edward Island Inc.

Marcoux made that comment during the annual meeting of the RDÉE, the provincial francophone economic development council, in Summerside Wednesday. The meeting provided an overview of accomplishments from the RDÉE’s second year of operation as an independent entity.

“We’ve got to say that the 2011-2012 year was extremely eventful and hectic as the RDÉE continued to evolve at full speed. Overall, the year was crowned with successes on several levels, but we also had to overcome several major challenges and even certain disappointments during this year of major transitions,” mentioned the president in his report. “We still succeeded in carving a solid place for ourselves on the provincial scene as we strove to better serve the population and to further contribute to the economic development of Acadian and francophone communities and the province as a whole. “

The president said over the past year, the RDÉE has seen a fair amount of turnaround in staffing, including in the executive director position as well as among development officers. “This brought us new blood along with new ways of seeing and doing things,” he noted.

The organization’s internal structure continued to solidify itself this year as the Acadian and Francophone Chamber of Commerce of PEI (CCAFLIPE, which is integrated into the RDÉE, started flying on its own wings with a full slate of events for business people. Among others, the revamped 2012 Entrepreneurs’ Gala had its greatest success ever, attracting its largest crowd ever in its 10-yeear history.

However, the ProfitLearn PEI program, which used to fund most expenses for workshops and training provided by the CCAFLIPE, lost its funding. It goes without saying that this will mean all kinds of adjustments in the Chamber’s programs.

MEMBERSHIP FEES

This cut was one of the factors that motivated the board to ask members the permission to change its regulations so that it could charge an annual membership fee of $25 for organizations and businesses and $5 for individuals. The motion, which was adopted unanimously, will come into effect at the start of the next fiscal year, in April 2013.

Originally, it had been decided that the membership fees would be for a lifetime membership. It is hoped that the new fees will generate a small operational fund of about $1,000-$1,500 a year for the Chamber. It was mentioned that other PEI chambers charge annual fees ranging from $150 to $1,000, based on the number of employees.

CDC’S SITUATION

The Conseil de développement coopératif (CDC), which has a management agreement with the RDÉE, had been expecting a magnificent year of festivities following the launch of the International Year of Co-operatives this past January. A few months later, it learned that the federal government was cutting the Co-operative Development Initiative, the CDC’s core funding source, as of the end of December 2012.

“It was therefore quite a slap in the face for both the CDC and the RDÉE to see this funding cut at this particular critical moment,” commented the president. He said the national Anglophone and Francophone co-op councils are developing a new collaboration strategy to try to secure new funding from another department.

“However, even if no new funding is announced for the development of co-ops, the RDÉE will continue to do everything it can to support the development of new co-operatives since the co-op model remains an option of choice in community economic development,” he promised.

KEY PARTNERS

The president, as well as Gary Doucette who was the interim executive director at the end of the fiscal year, highlighted several other great partnerships that have been developed over the past year. Alliances have been struck, among others, with:

  • Canadian Parents for French PEI for the organization of career fairs for Grade 9 immersion and French students and a forum for Anglophone entrepreneurs about the advantages of offering bilingual services;
  • Rural Actions Centres of PEI to help provide services in French throughout the Island and, in the case of the Wellington centre, to jointly organize events;
  • The Université Sainte-Anne of Nova Scotia and the three other Atlantic Canadian RDÉEs for the implementation of the Connect Atlantic project, which included an entrepreneurial survey, the organization of an Atlantic forum on the knowledge economy and, soon, the development of an online toolbox for entrepreneurs.

THE FUTURE

In these uncertain economic times, which are bringing about substantial funding cuts to various economic development organizations (including the CDC, ProfitLearn PEI, the Baie Acadienne Development Corporation and many others), the RDÉE is remaining optimistic for its future. Its core funding is guaranteed until the end of March 2013. As is the case with many other organizations from the Canadian francophone community, the RDÉE funding comes from a five-year federal strategy known as the Roadmap for Canada’s Linguistic Duality, which wraps up next spring.

The federal ministers are openly talking about renewing the Roadmap. It remains to be seen if and how that is going to translate into dollars and cents.

“The federal government appears to be quite satisfied with the concrete results that the RDÉEs are generating with the money they get every year, so we’re cautiously confident about our future,” concluded the president.

All those wishing to obtain a copy of the RDÉE’s voluminous annual report of activities may download it from www.rdeeipe.net.

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CUTLINE: RDÉE Prince Edward Island Inc. recently marked the end of its second year as an independent entity during its annual meeting in Summerside. Reviewing the annual report are, from left, re-elected vice-president Jeannette Arsenault, re-elected president Martin Marcoux, new interim executive director Bonnie Gallant, new board member Nancy Clement from the PEI Association of Newcomers to Canada, and new executive committee member Donald DesRoches from the Collège Acadie Î.-P.-É.

For more information:

Martin Marcoux
President
RDÉE Prince Edward Island Inc.
902-628-9103
martin.marcoux@rbc.com

Gary Doucette
Assistant executive director
RDÉE Prince Edward Island Inc.
902-370-7333
gary@rdeeipe.org

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