November 1, 2019 • 7:30am to 2:30pm

White Oaks Conference Resort & Spa

The Niagara Economic Summit brings us together to celebrate shared successes,
strategize the way forward for our regional economy, and increase collaboration.



Our Topics




Tomorrow's Workforce

About a third of future jobs don’t exist today. What will the workforce of tomorrow have to deal with, and how will we prepare them for an unknown future?




Liveable Communities - Urban Design

True prosperity requires a community where all can thrive. Niagara must not only be a good place to do business, but a good place to live, no matter your background or your wealth.





Gamechangers can be loud and famous, or they can quietly change an entire industry or an economy behind the scenes. What are those gamechangers, and what do they mean for the businesses of today and tomorrow?


Our Keynote Speaker


The Hon. Peter Bethlenfalvy

President of the Treasury Board

On June 29th, 2018, the Hon. Peter Bethlenfalvy was appointed President of the Treasury Board Secretariat to  lead the Provincial government’s efforts on openness and modernization.

Peter draws upon over 25 years of senior leadership experience in capital markets, risk management and investments. He has held senior roles at CST Consultants, Manulife, DBRS, and TD Securities. 

Peter is passionate about giving back to his community through organizations that support mental illness, members of the Canadian Armed Forces, and Veterans and their families.

Peter holds Bachelors of Science and Masters of Business Administration degrees from McGill University.

Power Talk Speakers


Jamie McMillian

Founder, Kick Ass Careers

Jamie McMillan is an inspiration and mentor to hundreds of young women. She’s opened doors, and minds, to all of the career possibilities in the skilled trades. As co-founder of KickAss Careers (previously called J♀urneyman), Jamie promotes women in the skilled trades by speaking in high school classrooms and at national trade events. Jamie has been an Ironworker since 2002. She has worked at oil and gas plants in Alberta and potash mines in Saskatoon. 


Donna Hinde

Principal, The Planning Partnership

Donna is a Principal at The Planning Partnership, an interdisciplinary landscape architecture, urban design and planning firm that has won 45 awards for their projects. Donna has led projects throughout Niagara Region including the Brock District Plan for the area around the Niagara Region Headquarters and Brock University and the Glendale Visioning Exercise that set direction for a subsequent Secondary Plan for the area around the Outlet Collection at Niagara and Niagara College. Donna has taught at the University of Toronto and Guelph, is a member of the Ontario Association of Landscape Architects and a fellow with the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects. She is the past President of the Ontario Association of Landscape Architects.


Brock Dickinson

Professor, University of Waterloo

Brock is an Assistant Director of the Economic Development Program at the University of Waterloo, and has worked in local economic development for 25 years. He is currently the Entrepreneur in Residence and an Adjunct Professor with the University of Waterloo. He was previously CEO of MDB Insight, Canada’s largest specialist economic development consultancy, where he worked with hundreds of communities across North America. Before this private sector role, Brock headed a number of provincial and municipal economic development agencies in both Ontario and Nova Scotia, and spent six years as a consultant with the United Nations, leading sustainable development projects in 30 countries.

Economic updates will be provided by:


Ashley Challinor

Vice-President of Policy, Ontario Chamber of Commerce

Ashley Challinor is Vice President, Policy at the Ontario Chamber of Commerce. Prior to joining the OCC in 2015, she worked in market research in Toronto, media in Tbilisi, and migration policy in Washington, DC. Ashley has an MSc. from the London School of Economics, an MA from the University of Southern California, and a BA from the University of Toronto. She currently serves on CivicAction’s Mental Health in the Workplace Champions Council.


Blake Landry

Manager, Economic Research and Analysis

Blake’s primary focus on the Niagara Economic Development team is overseeing economic, industrial and business research and analysis. He has held a variety of positions in economic development involving business start-up services, innovation commercialization; economic research and analysis; and investment attraction. Blake sits on the Board of Directors of the Niagara Industrial Association and is Chair of their Membership and Marketing Committee. He holds a degree in Communications from Brock University, a Graduate Certificate in Public Administration from Humber College and a Certificate in Economic Development from the University of Waterloo.

Dr. Trevin Stratton

Dr. Trevin Stratton

Chief Economist, Canadian Chamber of Commerce

Dr. Trevin Stratton is an award-winning business economist, specializing in global and technological change. He studied at Carleton University in Canada, as well as at the London School of Economics in the United Kingdom and the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Switzerland. He has held appointments as an International Scholar at Yale University's Jackson Institute for Global Affairs, as an E.C. Harwood Fellow at the American Institute for Economic Research, and as a lecturer in politics, economics, and international studies at the American University in Dubai.

Our Panelists:

Dr. Andrew Gaudes

Dr. Andrew Gaudes

Dean, Goodman School of Business

Dr. Andrew Gaudes, BES (Arch), MFM, Ph.D., CRM, ICD.D, joined the Goodman School of Business in 2017 as Dean. He came to Goodman from the University of Regina where he was the Dean of the Hill and Levene Schools of Business. Prior to his time at the University of Regina, he spent nine years with the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton, where he was Associate Dean of International Programs and before that, Director of Graduate Programs, within the Faculty of Business Administration.


Dr. Tania Humphrey

Chief Science Officer, Vineland Research

Tania Humphrey joined Vineland Research and Innovation Centre in 2008, shortly after it began and her role has expanded as the organization has grown. Now, as Vice President, Research and Development, she oversees the research function of the organization and is responsible for research strategy, direction and portfolio management. Tania holds a PhD in Plant Biology from the University of Queensland, Australia and in her early career held postdoctoral research positions with the University of Toronto and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

Vincent Shaikh

Vincent Shaikh

Dean of Media, Trades & Technology, Niagara College

Vincent Shaikh joined Niagara College in 2018, and was previously the Associate Dean at the School of Applied Technology, Humber College. Vincent brings more than 12 years of industry and academic experience to his role. Prior to joining Humber in 2013, he held leadership positions at Bell Canada in software development, design and technology solutions. He holds an advanced diploma in Computing Science from Algonquin College, a Bachelor of Applied Science in Software Engineering from the University of Ottawa (SITE), and a Masters of Engineering from Ryerson University.


Drew MacNeil


Drew is the Co-Founder of XpertVR, a local software development company that focuses on enhancing traditional training and research techniques through the use of Virtual Reality. Drew previously attended Brock University, where he received a Business Operations degree while beginning his entrepreneurial venture. Drew has experience in both the professional development and VR industries and has created content for brands such as Red Bull, Niagara Falls Tourism, and Brock University.


Ian Howcroft

Executive Director, Skills Ontario

Ian is the CEO of Skills Ontario, having served as a Board Member and later Board President from 2004 to 2006. Before taking the position as CEO of Skills Ontario, he headed CME’s Provincial Operations and Corporate Counsel as Senior Vice President, and led several strategic initiatives to improve and support the health and safety, diversity, and workforce training in the manufacturing and industrial sectors. Ian holds an Honours B.A. from McMaster University, and a law degree from the University of Western Ontario. He is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada. 


Sime Pavlovic

Chief Information Officer, Niagara Health System

Sime Pavlovic is the Chief Information Officer for the Niagara Health System (NHS), responsible for the Information, Communications and Technology strategy and implementation within our Regional Hospitals and growing network of community based services. Prior to joining NHS, Sime held various senior executive roles directing and planning the execution of high-priority healthcare and information technology initiatives for the private and public sectors including the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Government Service, and eHealth Ontario.

Ron Hurst

Ron Hurst

President, Nitec Energy Services

Ron is a Technology Development Executive with more than 25 years of global experience in the energy and environment industry.  An innovative engineer able to communicate responsibly and effectively at all levels, Ron is an independent leader with strong communication, technical and motivational skills. He specializes in developing, strengthening and mentoring high performance teams for outstanding results, and managing change and growth in a complex environment.


Aaron Tisdelle

Chair, Niagara Industrial Association

A lifelong Niagara resident and manufacturer, Aaron is currently chair of the Niagara Industrial Association and the third generation president of Girotti Machine. Aaron is currently involved in the NIA's Education and Training Committee, and is passionate about providing valuable directions to our young people as well as strengthening our trades. Aaron would like to bring new ideas into the association and help other Niagara manufacturers.

Allie Hughes

Allie Hughes

CEO, H&C Inc.

Allie's leadership has taken Hughes & Co. to market significance since its founding 2012. Her industry reputation has led to speaking engagements across North America including Inbound, the Atelier, Haste & Hustle and more. With a client base that ranges from small business to Fortune 500 companies, she has assembled a dynamic team positioned to win. Allie has been recognized with a Niagara Excellence in Business award, as a Niagara Entrepreneur of the Year, Women in Business' Emerging Entrepreneur, Niagara Top 40 Under 40 and Brock University's Most Outstanding Young Alumni in 2017.

Cheryl Stone

Cheryl Stone

Manager, Stakeholder Relations and Partnerships, Greater Toronto Airports Authority

Cheryl joined the Greater Toronto Airports Authority in 2016 as the Manager of Stakeholder Relations. In 2018 she expanded her job duties as Manager of Stakeholder Relationships and Partnerships. Previously, she has worked as a Public Affairs Coordinator for the Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada and a Director of Policy for the Government of Canada. She has a Master of Arts from Wilfrid Laurier University in American history.


Lori Beech

Director, Bethlehem Housing

With a general degree majoring in Business Administration and Post Diploma Certification in Non-Profit and Association Executive Management, Lori has over 25 years’ experience in Director and Management roles in the not-for-profit sector, government agencies, provincial and national associations. Beech has worked in social service sectors such as workforce development education and training, youth employment, immigration and newcomer settlement services, mental health, poverty reduction, food security, homelessness prevention and community housing.  For the past 5.5 years, she has held the position of Executive Director at Bethlehem Housing and Support Services, one of largest non-profit housing organizations in the Niagara Region.


Dan Degazio

Economic Development Director, City of Welland

Dan has been the Director of Economic Development for the City of Welland for eighteen years. He is the co-chair of the EDCO Investment Alliance and was a member of Welland City Council for twelve years. Under Dan's leadership, the city has attracted $372-million in new investment since 2015, including enterprises such as Northern Gold and GE. He holds qualifications in Business Administration/Human Resources from Niagara College and an Economic Development Certificate from the University of Waterloo.


Trudy Parsons

Executive Vice-President, MDB Insight

Trudy has dedicated her career to creating strategies and solutions that position communities for prosperity. She has a passion for helping people, organizations, and communities achieve success, however, they chose to define it.
She has more than 25 years of expertise in sectoral, industry-specific, and local, regional, provincial and national workforce development and has worked in the private, public and not-for-profit sectors. Before joining MDB Insight, Trudy served as the Executive Director of the Niagara Workforce Planning Board and established the NWPB as a credible labour market information research organization. She has authored numerous reports and articles on workforce development, human capital, and workforce populations that face barriers to workplace transition.


Dr. Suzanne Johnston

Suzanne Johnston served as the President of Niagara Health from September 2014 through June 2019. She has more than 30 years of leadership experience in health care and government.  Prior to joining Niagara Health in 2014, Suzanne was the Vice President, Clinical Programs and Chief Nursing Officer for Northern Health, in British Columbia. Dr. Johnston obtained both her undergraduate and graduate degrees in nursing from the University of New Brunswick and completed her doctoral studies at the University of Arizona. Suzanne is a Fellow in the Wharton Nurse Executive Program and a member of the College of Registered Nurses of Ontario. Suzanne was the recipient of the 2016 Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce Community Leadership Award, serves as a Director on the Niagara College Board of Governors and is a Director for the YMCA of Niagara.


Chair Jim Bradley

Regional Chair

Jim Bradley was elected as Niagara Regional Chair on December 6, 2018. Previously, Chair Bradley served as a St. Catharines city councillor from 1970 to 1977 and a member of provincial parliament for St. Catharines from 1977 to 2018. During his time with the government,  Chair Bradley also served as provincial minister of Environment, Transportation, Municipal Affairs and Housing, Tourism and Recreation, Community Safety and Correctional Services, and Seniors.


Dr. Greg Finn

Interim Provost and Vice-President, Academic

Greg Finn became Interim Provost and Vice-President, Academic in October 2018. He first joined Brock in 1985 as a lecturer in Geological Sciences, and after completing his PhD at Memorial University in 1989 was appointed assistant professor. He has also served Brock as Associate Dean in the Faculty of Mathematics and Science (2003-2007) and chair of the Department of Earth Sciences (1996-2002). Finn has also been involved in education at the provincial and national levels. He has been president of both the Science Teachers’ Association of Ontario and the Association of Professional Geoscientists of Ontario, and was Ontario Councillor of the Canadian Council of Professional Geoscientists.

Dr. Dan Patterson

Dr. Dan Patterson

President, Niagara College

With a genuine enthusiasm for student success and an unwavering dedication to his college and the community, Dan Patterson, PhD, has been Niagara College’s president since 1995. Under his leadership, the College has doubled its enrollment to over 10,000 full time students in over 100 programs with an operating budget of over $145 million. He is a passionate advocate for the important role that colleges play in the economic life of their communities.


Rashmi Biswas


An expert in development in management and leadership, Rashmi Biswas is the Executive Vice President with Lake and Associates Canada. Rashmi is an instructor with the Centre for Innovation, Management and Enterprise Education, The Goodman School of Business, Brock University, a program Facilitator with the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, and she is the author of the motivational book “Rash Decisions: Accept Where You Are, And Then…Be Amazing.” Rashmi holds a Masters degree in Human Resource Management, from Sheffield Hallam University; a BSc (HONS) in Hotel and Catering Management, from Manchester Metropolitan University; and a Postgraduate Certificate in Adult Education, Facilitation and Training from the University of Teesside.

Glen Walker

Glen Walker BA., BSW., RSW.

Executive Director, Positive Living Niagara

Glen has been the Executive Director of Positive Living since 2011. In this capacity, he has been involved in several community based research projects which explore the impacts of support on individuals with HIV. Glen is a social worker by training with over 25 years of experience in community clinical service within the developmental services sector. He established specialized clinical services in South Western Ontario and assisted in the development of the Community Networks of Specialized Care.


2019 Niagara Economic Summit - November 1, 2019

Time Item

7:30 a.m. — 8:00 a.m.


8:00 a.m. — 8:40 a.m.

Welcome & Introductions

8:40 a.m. — 9:00 a.m.

Brock Leadership Development Graduation

9:00 a.m. — 10:00 a.m.

Power Talk 1 - Tomorrow's Workforce - Jamie McMillan, KickAss Careers
About a third of future jobs don't exist today. What will the workforce of tomorrow have to deal with, and how will we prepare them for an unknown future?

Panel Discussion 1 – Tomorrow's Workforce
Moderator: Trudy Parsons, MDB Insight

  • Andrew Gaudes, Dean, Goodman School of Business
  • Vincent Shaikh, Dean, Niagara College
  • Aaron Tisdelle, Chair, Niagara Industrial Association
  • Ian Howcroft, Executive Director, Skills Ontario
  • Jamie McMillan, KickAss Careers

10:00 a.m. — 10:20 a.m.


10:20 a.m. — 11:15 a.m.

Plenary Speakers:

Regional Economic Update – Blake Landry, Manager, Economic Research & Analysis, Niagara Region
Provincial Economic Update - Ashley Challinor, VP, Policy, Ontario Chamber of Commerce
Federal Economic Update - Trevin Stratton, Chief Economist, Canadian Chamber of Commerce

The Honourable Peter Bethlenfalvy, President of the Treasury Board

11:15 a.m. — 12:20 p.m.

Power Talk 2 – Liveable Communities – Urban Design - Donna Hinde, The Planning Partnership
True prosperity requires a community where all can thrive. Niagara must not only be a good place to do business, but a good place to live, no matter your background or your wealth.

Panel Discussion 2 - Liveable Communities – Urban Design
Moderator: Rashmi Biswas, Lake and Associates

  • Dan Degazio, City of Welland
  • Lori Beech, Director, Bethlehem Housing
  • Cheryl Stone, Manager of Stakeholder Relations and Partnerships, Greater Toronto Airports Authority
  • Glen Walker, Executive Director, Positive Living Niagara
  • Donna Hinde, The Planning Partnership

12:20 p.m. — 1:00 p.m.

Lunch Break

1:00 p.m. — 2:20 p.m.

Power Talk 3 - Gamechangers - Brock Dickinson, Assistant Director of Economic Development Program, University of Waterloo
Gamechangers can be loud and famous, or they can quietly change an entire industry or an economy behind the scenes. What are those gamechangers, and what do they mean for the businesses of today and tomorrow?

Panel Discussion 3 – Gamechangers
Moderator: Allie Hughes, H&C Inc.

  • Dr. Tania Humphrey, Chief Science Officer, Vineland Research
  • Drew MacNeil, XpertVR
  • Ron Hurst, Nite Energy Services Inc.
  • Sime Pavlovic, Chief Information Officer, Niagara Health System
  • Brock Dickinson, Assistant Director of Economic Development Program, University of Waterloo

2:20 p.m. — 2:30 p.m.

Closing Remarks

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Sponsored By

Niagara Economic Development

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Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce


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