ANNIE SILVESTER/Bullet News
A crowd of 500 attended the Business Education Council’s 26th Annual Partners Breakfast at the Marriot Gateway on the Falls. The group which consisted of BEC members and its partners within business, government, education and not-for-profit communities came together in a celebration of alliances.
Keynote speaker and economic development specialist Brock Dickinson addressed the crowd with a powerful message that Niagara’s business owners and community leaders had to keep on top of leading edge economic development issues and trends to be successful.
BEC’s manager of community projects Judy Reid told Bullet News after the ceremony that day was “all about working for a better Niagara and trying to provide the best opportunities for each individual.”
Executive Director Ted Palmer added “we believe one of our major roles is to help bring people together and do joint projects.”
Some of these include the BEC’s Early Years and Poverty reduction programs (community alliances geared to helping youth and the poor) “where we have over 30 partners in both of those” and the employment services programs “where we probably serve 10-15, 000 people that are unemployed per year.”
Palmer stressed that we cannot continue working separately in the region if we are going to move ahead.
“I think sometimes that’s one of the weaknesses here in Niagara. We tend to work in silos and live in silos and we can’t move forward fast enough. So, I think it’s really important that more and more groups are working together, rather than competing… and that will allow us to share knowledge.”
Several important awards that recognized excellence in the community were also a part of the day.
The Lincoln Fabrics Ltd. Annual Teacher Award recognized two teachers from the District School Board of Niagara and the Niagara Catholic District School Board for their leadership in the practice of school-community cooperation. The recipients included Kevin Krasney from Welland Centennial Secondary and Jonathan Lau of Notre Dame College School.
Said an elated Lau after receving his trophy, “It was a huge surprise and a huge honour as well.”
Lau, a technology teacher who focuses on media arts has worked for 16 years as a freelancer and brings his expertise in the field to the classroom, assisting them in engaging in community and global competitions with their new knowledge. Said Lau: “Competitions are what we live for.”
The PenFinancial Credit Union Community Partner Award was also presented to group of community partners whose commitment of leadership and expertise has enhanced opportunities for personal growth in Niagara. For more information on award recipients visit the website www.becniagara.ca.