Over 500 people attended, a 50% increase over last year’s event.
Building on the success of last year’s inaugural event, the second annual Advancing Island Connections welcomed over 500 investors, business owners, newcomers and others from the Island’s business community to explore opportunities for business purchase, investment and expansion.
The premiere networking event included: the Business Opportunities Showcase where ten presenters highlighted multiple opportunities for investment or purchase onstage; the Business Connections Tradeshow where over 25 exhibitors promoted their professional services or businesses for sale; and a Pitch Floor where 28 business owners met with potential buyers and investors.
“One goal of Island Advance is to promote cultural diversity in our business community and foster connections between established Island businesses and newcomer entrepreneurs for their mutual benefit,” said Wendy Drake, Greater Charlottetown Chamber of Commerce President and Island Advance Steering Committee Chair. “Newcomers bring experience and expertise, connections to new markets, investment dollars and an interest in building strong businesses on the Island.”
The Business Opportunities Showcase opened with an inspiring business transition success story by Bill Hogg, former long-standing owner of Sunset Campground in Cavendish. Mr. Hogg shared his story of transitioning the business he built and owned for 26 years to newcomer entrepreneurs, and emphasized that maintaining a role in operations during the transition was key to the continued success of Sunset Campground and the integration of the new owners into the business community.
The multiple opportunities presented for purchase or investment ranged from established food or farming operations to start-ups in building products to an expanding biotechnology company. Director of Operations for Aspin Kemp & Associates, Chunying Li, rounded out the morning with an inspiring success story about operating a global manufacturing and engineering company from P.E.I. Ms. Li cited research from an independent consultant who rated Prince Edward Island as the best province in Canada in which to do business.
Feedback from attendees, exhibitors and presenters has been very positive.
Sean Wall, Owner and Harvester, Blackwhale Sea Salt Co.:
“We found Advancing Island Connections very helpful because it provided us with an opportunity we wouldn’t otherwise have to meet people in our community who are looking to get involved in growing local business,” said Sean Wall of Blackwhale Sea Salt Company, who pitched his investment opportunity onstage during the Business Opportunities Showcase, and had a table on the Pitch Floor. “Coming out of the event we are pleased to say that we have a number of potential business partners. It was a very successful event for us.”
Darren MacAleer, Senior Associate, Grant Thornton LLP:
“Many business owners want to be discreet when looking to transition their business – most businesses for sale on P.E.I. are not listed publically,” said Darren MacAleer, Senior Associate at Grant Thornton LLP, who presented on behalf of clients at the event. “Advancing Island Connections fills an existing need to connect the newcomer business community with the Island business community. Last year’s event was very effective and it just keeps getting better.”
Advancing Island Connections, presented by Island Advance, PEI Connectors and the Greater Charlottetown Chamber of Commerce, was held on Thursday, November 26 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Event partners included the Prince Edward Island Office of Immigration, Innovation PEI, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, the City of Charlottetown, and the City of Summerside; with venue sponsor the Delta; and media sponsors The Guardian, Ocean 100 and Hot 105.5.
A preview video from the event is now live on the Island Advance YouTube page. Stay tuned to that page for a more in-depth video with interviews from presenters, exhibitors and attendees.
About Island Advance: Island Advance is an initiative of the Greater Charlottetown Area Chamber of Commerce aimed at growing Prince Edward Island’s economy by encouraging entrepreneurship, improving access to capital and integrating entrepreneurial and skilled newcomers. For more information on Island Advance visit http://www.charlottetownchamber.com/islandadvance.