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Get to Know the Region: Norfolk County!

Norfolk County and the region have a bright, collaborative future

Clark Hoskin was born in Haldimand County and raised on his family’s farm east of Jarvis. He studied film and television production at York University. After graduating, he worked in journalism. Clark moved back to the Haldimand-Norfolk area in the 1990s to raise a family. He was instrumental in establishing the region’s first tourism website, and was hired as Economic Development / Tourism Assistant for the Region of Haldimand-Norfolk.

For several years, Clark commuted out of the area for opportunities as Manager at Cambridge Tourism and Director of Consumer and Media Markets with Southern Ontario Tourism Organization. In 2002, he was hired as Director of Tourism and Economic Development in Norfolk County, leading the municipality’s post-amalgamation efforts to restructure its focus in this area.

With support from businesses, colleagues, politicians and peers in neighbouring regions, Clark and his team have implemented award-winning marketing and business development initiatives for Norfolk County. Among those initiatives is Norfolk County’s successful Marketing Partnership, with about 300 partners cooperatively promoting tourism, local food and drink.

“Innovative methods and tactics helped build community pride and loyalty, and repeated successful outcomes helped building positivity and optimism,” Hoskin said. “This cooperative attitude means it is easier to propose new projects and get buy-in, whether it is our Student Start Up Program for young entrepreneurs or sponsorship for our popular annual Economic Development Symposium.”

“Norfolk County has always been a collaborator and innovator, which is out of necessity,” he added. “When tobacco declined, we pulled all our smartest minds together to come up with recommendations for the future – and they produced some great ideas which were communicated to politicians. But a year later, all we heard were crickets when listening for support from the federal and provincial governments.”

“Norfolk County’s then-Mayor Rita Kalmbach called a meeting of tobacco-growing Counties, and the group agreed that one strong voice would be more effective than several weak ones. So began the genesis of what we now call SCOR.”

In 2009, Hoskin co-chaired the transition team that led to the establishment of Southwestern Ontario Tourism Corp., one of 13 new tourism regions mandated by the Province. Because of that work, projects such as the South Coast Shuttle (weekend bus service to tourist areas in Norfolk County), the Finger Lakes Study Tours (two-day group tours of Upstate New York to compared notes with business leaders there), and the Cruise the Coast Motorcycle Tourism Alliance have become successful, with Norfolk playing a key role in all of them.

“I see huge potential for Norfolk County and our region,” said Hoskin. “The trick in coming years will be to constantly rethink how we collaborate on tangible economic development projects on a region-wide basis. SCOR pioneered some worthwhile discussions and our work with SWOTC and the Western Ontario Wardens Caucus have helped prepare us for what is next. I predict a whole new world of regional cooperation in the future, involving municipalities, businesses, people and technology. It’s just around the corner.”

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