Community development forum focuses on people

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People were the focus for the first program of 2014 for the Chatham-Kent Community Development forum.

Adam Vandermey, a financial advisor for Sun Life Financial in Blenheim and the host for the evening, said the programs throughout the year will focus on council’s key objectives: jobs, people, health and financial sustainability.

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Vandermey said it is essential to focus on C-K as a collective.

“We need to work together to agree on who and what we are,” he said. “We need to promote our stellar brand.”

Vandermey said C-K has several challenges moving forward.

“We have lost half of our manufacturing jobs since 2006,” he said. “This has led to numerous challenges … population decline, we’ve seen our young people leave for larger urban areas.”

Polly Smith, program manager of employment and social services, said not everyone in Chatham-Kent has the same opportunities.

“As a community, we must build on our most precious asset, our people who live, work and play here,” she said, adding that 28% of children in C-K live in poverty.

Tania Sharpe, chief librarian and CEO of the Chatham-Kent Public Library, said C-K is working across various departments to help connect people with low-cost or no-cost opportunities.

“Libraries are people connectors,” she said. “Families can connect with reach other. By continuing to invest in culture, recreation and libraries, we are investing in our people.”

Katrina Moir, co-ordinator with resident attraction and retention, said staff is targeting young people, immigrants and recent retirees.

“Promoting entrepreneurship and helping people who are creating employment for themselves and others,” she said of their goals.

Moir added they have connected with seven different universities and they also purchased online advertising in a multi-lingual area of the GTA.

Kevin Owen, owner of Owen Flooring and a spokesperson for Promote C-K, said their group is hoping to convince people to move to C-K, focusing on the mild climate and relaxed atmosphere.

The program was aired live on TV Cogeco.

The next segment in the forum is scheduled for May 12.

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