May 25, 2011

Rural Economic Developers from across Ontario honoured their own and named an “Entrepreneur of the Year” at their Annual Conference, held this week in Niagara Falls.  The Ontario Association of Community Futures Development Corporations wrapped up a two day event on May 18 with the Awards presentation.  The members of the organization represent 61 Community Futures Development Corporations, located in towns and rural areas across the province.

Community Futures Development Corporations (CFDCs) offer free business counselling and provide loans to entrepreneurs, in addition to working on community economic development projects.  CFDCs in Southern Ontario are funded by FedDev Ontario, while those in Northern Ontario are funded by Industry Canada through FedNor.  They operate as not-for-profit corporations.  Decisions are made locally by volunteer Boards of Directors working with managers and staff in each office.  Volunteer directors and staff alike will be attending the conference May 16 to 18.

 The "Entrepreneur of the Year" was chosen from several nominees, all successful businesses that received loans and counselling from CFDCs.  Winning the prestigious award were Bruce and Sharon VandenBerg of Mariposa Dairy in Lindsay, Ontario.  They were nominated by Andrew Wallen of the Kawartha Lakes Community Futures Development Corporation in Lindsay.  

Sharon and Bruce VandenBerg married in 1985, and purchased a farm that same year.  Sharon has a diploma in Food Service, and Bruce in Ag-Business, both from Kemptville College.  Together, they manage a goat herd and a cheese plant, selling their cheese across Canada and the United States.  The farm employs 16, while 40 work at the cheese plant.

 Three Community Futures Development Corporations received Awards of Excellence for special projects:

Wellington-Waterloo Community Futures won the Business Support Services Award with their program, Business Excellence Training.

The Community Futures Development Corporations of Bruce, Elgin, Huron, Middlesex, Perth, Saugeen & Wellington-Waterloo won the Community Strategic Planning Award for their project, Midwestern Ontario Regional Green Jobs Strategy.

Venture Niagara Community Futures won the Community Economic Development Award for their development of the Niagara Sport Commission.

The OACFDC is pleased to honour the Entrepreneur of the Year, in partnership with FedNor and FedDev Ontario.  The OACFDC is also proud of the three CFDC Awards of Excellence winners, sponsored by Desjardins Financial Security and Sharon Wilson Group Benefits Consultant.  


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