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2nd Annual Explore Economics East Conference to showcase business successes – by Charlotte MacAulay

Eastern PEI is home to world class businesses which is something worth celebrating.

Marie LaVie, executive director of the Eastern PEI Chamber of Commerce, said the best way to do that is showcase these pillars of the community by coming together to hear their diverse stories at the second annual Explore Economics East Conference.

Two panels of local entrepreneurs will share their stories at the event along with award winning keynote speaker Nicole Verkindt, founder and CEO of OMX and Dragon on CBC’s Next Gen Den.

The first panel, Finding a Niche in the Market and a Market in the Niche, will feature Rose Viaene of Chuckwagon Farm Market, Starla and Ryan Wilson of Shiny Paint Company, Sherri Spatuk and Mark Mahar of M4G Affordable Housing, and Kim Doherty-Smith of Fleece and Harmony.

“There is opportunity here and we need to get those good news stories out there so people can see these opportunities,” Ms LaVie said, describing how panel members have taken their unique talents and carved out a place to do business right here.

Tickets are selling fast for the event to be held on Saturday, November 4, from noon to 5:30pm at the Kings Playhouse in Georgetown. The conference is sponsored by PEI Credit Unions, Aspin Kemp & Associates and NorCan Marine Inc.

The second panel, Being Relevant and Staying Relevant, will highlight Doug Nobles of Belfast Mini Mills, Barry and Jeff Beck of Beck’s Home Furniture, Karen Creighan of Main Street Pharmasave, and Brodie Rice of AM Auto Parts, all business owners who with vast experience who are staples in their communities.

“These are folks who have been in business for a long time and they are rolling with the punches,” Ms LaVie said. “They keep reinventing themselves to stay in business.”

When it comes right down to it is about being proud of your community and what is in it, said chamber communications director Tara Burke.

“In this conference we are talking about business, but without businesses in those communities what would we have?” Ms Burke said.

Attending this conference is another way in which residents can support business, she added.

Ms Verkindt’s experience will only enhance the stories of local entrepreneurs.

She first worked with her family’s aerospace business, and went on to found her own company, Offset Market Exchange, in 2011. With OMX, she invented a software solution to match aerospace companies with Canadian technology partners and she continues to grow the company internationally.

She is passionate about helping entrepreneurs learn the power of refusing to accept no as an answer when developing a business.

Just last week Ms Verkindt was the recipient of the 2017 National Start up Canada Women Entrepreneur Award. She believes the root of any success is about attitude – being optimistic and open to new ideas, and about collaboration. She recognizes that PEI is made up of tight-knit communities which she sees as a competitive business advantage because the businesses and individuals collaborate by sharing information and supporting each other.

The conference is an opportunity for just such sharing, Ms LaVie said, noting there is no better way for community members and budding entrepreneurs to derive information from these seasoned business owners.

The Eastern Prince Edward Island Chamber of Commerce is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping the businesses grow and reach their full potential.

For tickets, please visit eeeast.eventbrite.ca For more information contact info@epeicc.ca or call 902-838-3131.

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