In Mid December, Tracey Parker took over from the now happily retired Terry Romain, as Business Development Officer with the Frontenac Community Futures Development Corporation (FCFDC).
Two and a half months into the job, Parker said she is “absolutely loving it”. She said she is able to use many of the skills she has developed in her diverse educational and working career to bear and is happy to be “working with small businesses where you can see the impact of what you are doing.”
After completing a Bachelor of Commerce at Queen’s, she moved to Toronto and worked in marketing and technology. Over time, she developed interest in how businesses can make use of information to make better decisions in developing short and long term goals. To that end she completed and MBA with a focus on Information Technology.
After moving to the Kingston region, she did consulting work while raising a family and then spent 8 years at Empire Life dealing with business processes.
“About a year ago I decided it was time for a major shift in focus, and I left Empire Life and started my own hobby farm business north of Murvale, just inside of Frontenac County. I did that for a season and during that time I came to the CFDC as a client. When Terry decided to retire I thought this was a great opportunity.”
As Business Development Officer at the CFDC, Parker is spending about half of her time overseeing the loan portfolio, freeing up the rest of her time to do consulting with local business.
She said that her background in the strategic use of information, when combined with the skills of IT consultant Max Sadlowski in the use of technology, has already turned out to be useful to their clientele.
“We seem to have easily come to a separation of duties and we have been working very well together,” she said.
The number of businesses who are accessing CFDC services is on the rise as well.
“Within a week after our quarterly newsletter came out in January, ten new people contacted me.”
She has been meeting primarily one to one with business owners but thinks there would be a benefit to bringing different people together, not only to make efficient use of her time, but also to help build connections in the business community. She is setting up her first workshop for later in March. The geography of Frontenac County has made it difficult for business owners to get to know each other and despite some attempts there are no Chambers of Commerce type organisations in Frontenac County, which she sees as a gap.
“A lot of businesses are doing everything on their own.”
The brand ambassador exercise that Frontenac County has undertaken is making a difference, however, and it comes about as the CFDC and the County Economic Development department are forging a stronger working relationship.
Out of that relationship, Tracey Parker, small scale hobby farmer, is about to learn as much as she can about the large scale goat dairy business.
The county is looking at the possibility of providing a supply of goat milk for Feihe International, which is setting up in Kingston, and they came to the CFDC to talk about capacity building for this new challenge.
“I am now going to be seeking some training opportunities so we have some sense of all of the issues that come with starting a goat dairy,” she said.
When she applied for the Business Development Officer job there was no way she could have known that her business experience, expertise in business processes and information, and interest in farming, would all come together over goats.
All that and the ability to commute for only 15 minutes in the opposite direction of rush hour twice a day. Not a bad gig so far.