Grey County’s “Ag 4.0” digital agriculture innovation conference has won the Economic Developers Council of Ontario (EDCO) award for Best New Special Event for communities with populations 50,000-250,000. Deputy Warden Al Barfoot accepted the award with staff on Wednesday, February 7, at the annual EDCO Conference in Toronto.
“It feels great to be recognized for an event that showcased new ideas and built new relationships among attendees,” said Stewart Halliday, 2018 Warden of Grey County. “Being recognized by economic developers from across the province is a credit to the hard work that made Ag 4.0 happen. Grey County is proud to be a leader in the conversation around agriculture and technology.”
The inaugural Ag 4.0 event was held in November 2016 at Meaford Hall. The two-day summit and innovation tour brought farmers and food producers together with innovators from the technology field. Attendees learned from experts and discussed the challenges facing Grey County farm and food businesses and the opportunities to overcome them with the innovative use of technology.
Day One of the event featured a full schedule of concurrent speaking events, workshops and networking opportunities. These sessions were live-streamed online for worldwide participation, and recordings were made available after the event. On Day Two, participants toured farm businesses around Grey County to see new technology in action.
“The atmosphere at Ag 4.0 was electric and we knew we were on to something really special,” explained Philly Markowitz, Economic Development Officer with Grey County. “Everyone who participated walked away inspired and eager to explore new opportunities to improve their practices by adopting new technology and understanding data.”
Grey County Council was eager to see the momentum from Ag 4.0 continue and endorsed a plan to make it an annual event. The second summit, called Ag 4.0.1, was held in November 2017. The third edition is tentatively booked for November 1, 2018, at Meaford Hall.
The EDCO award isn’t the first time Ag 4.0 has been recognized. The unique event was prominently featured on Grey County’s application to the Intelligent Community Forum’s 2017 Intelligent Community of the Year competition. Grey County was named to the Top 7 Intelligent Communities of the year last February and spoke about Ag 4.0 and other initiatives in New York City last June as part of the annual Intelligent Communities Forum Summit.
“Grey County is full of innovators and entrepreneurs who are eager to embrace technology. We look forward to providing ongoing support for our businesses as we continue our intelligent community journey,” added Warden Halliday.
The Best new Special Event award wasn’t the only highpoint of the night. Later in the evening Grey County’s Manager of Economic Development, Savanna Myers, was named the Young Professional Influencer of the Year. This award recognizes a young individual who has made a significant impact on their peers, the economic development industry, and their community.
“Savanna is an inspiring young leader in the Grey County community and beyond. Her unwavering enthusiasm and optimism, coupled with her boundless energy and commitment to excellence, brings out the best in her staff and peers. We are very proud of her accomplishments and are lucky to have her,” said Kim Wingrove, Grey County Chief Administrative Officer.
Ms. Myers worked for the Town of Hanover before joining Grey County as the manager of economic development in the fall of 2016. She played an important role in the creation of the LaunchPad Youth Activity & Technology Centre and the success of Hanover’s façade improvement program.
When she arrived at Grey County Ms. Myers hit the ground running. Grey County had just been named to the Top 21 Intelligent Communities. She worked confidently and collaboratively with partners and all nine local municipalities to have Grey County successfully considered as a Top 7 contender.
“This award is an unexpected honour and I will treasure it greatly and display proudly,” said Myers. “Economic development is about collaboration and community. I’ve been fortunate to work with a lot of terrific people who make it easy to stay inspired. I’m excited for the great things our team will accomplish together.”