image Bernia WheatonIngersoll, ON — September 25, 2014 — The newly formed economic development corporation to serve rural Oxford, today announced the appointment of Bernia Wheaton as their Economic Development Officer, effective September 3, 2014. Ms. Wheaton brings more than 16 years of relevant industry experience to her new role.

“We welcome Bernia’s experience and leadership to the Rural Oxford business community,” said Mr. Jim Pickard, Chair of the Search Committee. “In her new role as Economic Development Officer, she will be responsible for promoting business growth and relocation opportunities throughout the municipalities of rural Oxford, supporting job creation, improving tax assessment, and showcasing rural Oxford as a place to do business.”

“Rural Oxford is uniquely positioned in the heart of southern Ontario with exceptional access to skilled labour, excellent transportation routes, an innovative manufacturing community, and a diverse and outstanding agri-food industry. Business leaders are creating jobs and they are delivering results in the midst of Ontario’s toughest economic challenges,” said Wheaton. “I am excited to be part of the new Rural Oxford Economic Development Corporation, building on Oxford County’s great brand and fully exploiting the opportunities in the municipalities of rural Oxford.”

As an entrepreneur and owner of a business consulting firm,
Ms. Wheaton has experience in introducing economic development to rural communities. Prior to joining the ROEDC, Ms. Wheaton served as the inaugural Economic Development Officer at the County of Perth where she received numerous awards and media attention for her innovative approach to rural economic development. Her mandate included providing support to retail, agriculture, and manufacturing sectors, while implementing award winning business retention and expansion strategies that dramatically reduced unemployment rates. Her success in mitigating economic barriers in rural Ontario led to an invitation to speak before the Standing Committee on General Government at the Ontario Legislature in support of Bill 11. The Attracting Investment and Creating Jobs Act of 2012 was subsequently passed to support the continuation and establishment of development funds in order to promote regional economic development in eastern andsouthwestern Ontario. On numerous occasions, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs has showcased Bernia’s work in economic development as best practices for rural Ontario.

“We welcome Bernia to our region and I look forward to working together to make great things happen in Oxford County,” said Mr. Don McKay, Chair of the REODC Board. “Bernia’s experience is a tremendous asset to us as we launch this economic development corporation. Her results-oriented approach and ability to think strategically will play a pivotal role in extending our track record of job creation, rural innovation, and vibrant communities, while helping businesses to grow profitability.”

The ROEDC has been established by the Townships of East Zorra-Tavistock, Norwich, Southwest Oxford, Blandford-Blenheim, and Zorra to direct the overall economic development direction and activities for Rural Oxford. Established throughout 2013-14, the Board has finalized incorporation, engaged an economic development professional to lead the organization, and is now ready to implement strategies to support rural business growth.