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Newfoundland and Labrador’s Economic Development Awards of Excellence Announced

For Immediate Release
April 19, 2024

St. John’s – The Economic Developers Association of Newfoundland and Labrador (EDANL) and its partner North Atlantic recognized the winners of the province’s Economic Development Awards of Excellence last night at its annual Awards Night event.

“Economic developers go about their work day in and day out to support and grow their communities and sectors in Newfoundland and Labrador,” said Kieran Hanley, EDANL’s President. “There are so many great professionals across this province doing such great things, but it is rare that we take the time to celebrate their successes.”

“Newfoundland and Labrador’s Economic Development Awards of Excellence give us an opportunity to recognize those that are making a difference in our province.”

Winners of the 2023 awards include:

Information on each of the awards winners and their accomplishments is found below.


The Economic Developers Association of Newfoundland and Labrador (EDANL) is the provincial organization of economic developers pursuing excellence in the field. The Association’s mission is to enhance the professional competence of Economic Development Officers; to advance economic development as a distinct, recognized, and self-governing profession; and to contribute to the province’s economic well-being.


Best Marketing Project

St. Anthony and Area Chamber of Commerce

This award recognizes a marketing initiative aimed at attracting, retaining, and/or fostering economic development in Newfoundland and Labrador. This year’s Best Marketing Project Award is being presented to the St. Anthony and Area Chamber of Commerce.

Online shopping has become the norm for Christmas shoppers who seek that special gift for loved ones over the holidays. The Chamber and its partner SABRI – St. Anthony Basin Resources Inc. – recognized the impact that this trend was having on small local businesses who once thrived during the Christmas Season.

Renee Pilgrim accepting on behalf of St. Anthony and Area Chamber of Commerce with EDANL Vice-President Margo Soucy

The partners designed an innovative campaign to encourage spending locally during the Christmas season to support local businesses. Residents picked up wallet-sized holiday passports at participating businesses and collected stamps representing the value of their spending. Completed cards, each representing $200 in local spending, were entered for a chance to win prizes donated by participating businesses.

In 2022, 35 businesses participated with 12,500 passports completed, representing $2.5 million in local spending. This past year the Chamber expanded the campaign beyond St. Anthony to include businesses throughout the Great Northern Peninsula. In 2023, 70 businesses participated with 30,800 completed passports, representing $6.2 million in local spending. Moreover, the Chamber’s membership grew by over 35 businesses by expanding its efforts on a regional basis.

The Holiday Passport campaign was created to encourage people to shop local by offering the chance to win prizes, and it has been a tremendous success. The campaign created a local buzz within participating communities, with consumers eager to pull out their passports at each location.

Congratulations to the St. Anthony and Area Chamber of Commerce on this marketing project which has had a significant economic development impact for the region.


Best Community Project

Tourism Bell Island Inc.

This award recognizes a project that has had a major economic development impact in a community. It rewards such things as strategic planning, business retention and expansion, placemaking, tourism, social enterprise, and so on within a municipality or community.

This year’s Best Community Project Award is being presented to Tourism Bell Island Inc. for its work developing the Gregory Normore Trail.

There were a number of purposes initially for the development this trail. First, Tourism Bell Island wanted to showcase to tourists the spectacular views from the cliffs that jut from the ocean and present them with the opportunity to watch a variety of birds such as bald eagles, owls, wild ducks, grebes, and more. Second, they wanted to provide new recreational infrastructure for local residents to help them enjoy the outdoors and exercise.

Michael Viran Jesudian accepting on behalf of Tourism Bell Island Inc. with EDANL Vice-President Margo Soucy

The trail skirts the edge of the island in most areas, and is innovative in that it has kept the natural flora and fauna, avoiding disturbance of nature wherever possible.

Since construction on the trail began a little over five years ago, it has been upgraded and lengthened to the point that it now surrounds the island, skirting along the majestic cliffs with a 22 kilometre diameter. Stopping at unique points of historical interest, the trail is now one of Bell Island’s most sought after experiences and is viewed as being the cornerstone from which its tourism industry can grow.

Local businesses say that the trail is helping to attract new customers, estimating that the trail is attracting over 5,000 hikers on an annual basis – and growing.

Gregory Normore was Bell Island’s first settler in the year 1740. Nearly 300 years later, the development of this trail in his honour is benefitting local residents and visitors to the island – and is likely to continue to do so for many more year to come. Congratulations to Tourism Bell Island on this community project.


Best Sector Project

Port of Argentia

This award recognizes a sector-based project that has had a major economic development within Newfoundland and Labrador.

This year’s Best Sector Project Award is being presented to the Port of Argentia for its achievements facilitating the energy transition at a global scale.

Dedicated to the economic development craft, the Port of Argentia has worked hard to attract investment to capitalize on its incredible infrastructure and position itself as a clean energy asset. These efforts paid off with the signing of two significant contracts to become North America’s first monopile marshalling yard in support of the emerging US offshore wind energy industry. Beyond the contract itself, this resulted in a total of $10 million in local infrastructure improvements, including road widening, dock facility enhancements, and creation of more than 122 acres of new laydown lands adjacent to docking facilities.

Port of Argentia also established a successful partnership with international developer Pattern Energy to explore the advancement of a $4 billion multi-phase wind energy-to-green fuels production facility to be constructed on Port lands.

The Port created a joint-venture company, Argentia Capital Inc., to focus on the construction of port infrastructure, the provision of services, and equity ownership in businesses to support its clean energy and other sector ambitions. This joint venture will also help to ensure that local benefits would be accrued from successful projects.

These efforts have already paid dividends, with the attraction of $38 million from the Federal Government and $15 million from the Provincial Government to assist with a major marine terminal expansion project. This initiative will double quayside capacity at the Port adding three berths and the creation of 10 hectares of adjacent laydown space. The new wharf development will feature the latest in port electrification innovations and focus on decarbonization.

The culmination of these economic development successes makes the Port of Argentia a deserving winner of the Best Sector Project Award and will result in many benefits for Placentia, the surrounding region, and the province for many years to come.


Regional Project Award

SaltWater Community Association Inc.

This award recognizes projects that demonstrate collaboration beyond the confines of a single municipality or community for the benefit of a region.

This year’s Best Regional Project Award is being presented to the SaltWater Community Association for its work developing its Indoor Hydroponic Farming project.

The SaltWater Community Association has a simple philosophy – perpetual generosity, positivity, and openness to limitless possibilities. The association is helping rural communities “Live Better” by helping to address some of the most pressing issues facing youth, families, and seniors in their service area.

Newfoundland & Labrador faces the highest food insecurity rate among Canadian provinces, with more than 20% of households affected. Rural and remote communities like those in Bonavista face access barriers due to logistical and cost challenges of delivering affordable, nutritious food.

In response, SWCA is turning this challenge into an economic development opportunity. This fall with support from the Northpine Foundation, the SWCA announced a substantial investment of $400,000 for their Change4Life hydroponic farm initiative that will be established in the Bonavista Peninsula region.

Change4Life will grow fresh produce locally year-round in a retrofit shipping container with training and gainful employment opportunities for individuals with exceptionalities who live on the peninsula.

SWCA’s initiative sets out to test an innovative solution for those facing food insecurity in the province, promoting healthy eating and going beyond food production to include environmental and economic benefits, while offering a self-sustaining approach to food security – an approach that could be replicated across the province if successful.

Congratulations to the SaltWater Community Association on this initiative which will contribute to the Bonavista Peninsula’s economic development.


Economic Developer of the Year

Pat Curran

This award recognizes excellence in the field of economic development in Newfoundland and Labrador.

This year’s Economic Developer of the Year Award is being presented to Pat Curran.

Pat Curran exemplifies the principles of economic development. For over 25 years Pat has been engaged in economic and community development, working with dozens of clients over many projects spanning the full range of the practice.

And while Pat’s career accomplishments make him deserving of acknowledgement, this award recognizes his recent work with the St. Mary’s Bay North Regional Development Association.

Pat Curran being presented his award by EDANL President Kieran Hanley

Pat completed a feasibility study as to how the region could best utilize Rocky River to expand tourism and create a well-developed plan for sustainability and economic growth in the area.

Going well beyond the scope of work, Pat’s experience in community development on the ground enabled the RDA to move forward creating new programs that are generating new economic activity. His ability to identify appropriate strategies that are realistically actionable are helping the RDA move beyond planning and into implementation.

As a result, the entire St. Mary’s Bay North region of 11 communities is working collaboratively to market the opportunities within the area with a new sense of confidence and determination. Through his efforts during the feasibility study, the RDA has secured a new building with new program capabilities.

Fueled by a passion for community, Pat continues to make a difference in guiding the development and diversification of economies in communities and regions around Newfoundland and Labrador.

He brings informed strategy and discipline and hands-on practical advice and assistance to community leaders, developers, entrepreneurs and volunteers in towns, rural communities, and organizations. From behind the scenes or the podium, through his analysis, facilitation, and counsel, he lifts and leverages the energy and commitment of volunteers, boards, and entrepreneurs to deliver real results.

Congratulations for Pat Curran for being selected as 2023’s Economic Developer of the Year.


President’s Award

Charlene Johnson

This year the President’s Award is being presented to an individual who has had a profound effect on Newfoundland and Labrador’s economy by virtue of representing – with passion and vigour – the province’s energy sector: Energy NL’s CEO Charlene Johnson.

Recent years have presented Newfoundland and Labrador’s energy industry – a vital contributor to provincial revenues and the provider of many jobs – with extreme highs and lows.

Energy NL’s CEO Charlene Johnson being presented her award by North Atlantic CEO Ted Lomond

In the months before the COVID-19 pandemic, oil prices around the world were cratering. Geopolitics were threatening oil and gas production around the world. In the midst of this disruption, the pandemic arrived. Local projects were taken offline, with no guarantee that they would return to production. Newfoundland and Labrador was in a crisis, and one acutely felt by the voice of the province’s energy industry.

With this weight on her shoulders, Charlene got to work convening the stakeholders, facilitating the dialogue, and taking the strategic and methodical steps necessary to secure the future of the industry in the province. While these were circumstances driven by international forces, there is no question that the steady, proactive, and unwavering leadership that Charlene demonstrated during this period of time influenced the outcomes.

Simultaneous to this crisis, increasing global interest in clean energy were presenting great opportunities for Newfoundland and Labrador. However, little policy, regulation, or process existed to help facilitate clean energy developments like those that were being explored. Charlene has played a pivotal role in helping to untie governments, developers, investors, and the business community in purpose. The province is on the frontier of a new global hydrogen industry, and Charlene’s leadership is helping to ensure that the province will seize these major opportunities.

Directly or indirectly, the success or failure of Newfoundland and Labrador’s energy industry has profound effects for every community in the province. Charlene has played an outsized role in its success during a time of great change, navigating the highs and lows with grace and confidence – making her deserving of recognition and the recipient of this year’s President’s Award.



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