Bruce County team comes home from conference in Cannes with business leads

·4 min read

BRUCE COUNTY – “Excellent.”

That is how Bruce County Warden Chris Peabody described the MIPIM conference in Cannes, France, March 14-17.

“It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” he said on Tuesday.

MIPIM is the world’s largest real estate event in the world. Last year, it was attended by over 2,400 global companies and attracted over 26,000 participants, with the goal of finding new investment opportunities.

This year, Peabody headed a delegation from Bruce County at the conference, with the goal of showcasing what the county has to offer in terms of available land and investment opportunities.

Peabody said Jeff Loney, the county’s economic development manager, had generated “lots of leads and contacts” prior to the conference, to make the most of the four days.

Peabody commented that the Bruce County booth was located in the basement, but one of the benefits of having a team is manning the booth with part of the team while the others visit other booths.

“Luke (Charbonneau, mayor of Saugeen Shores) and I would go and speak to potential investors,” he said.

They also got to see some of the booths that major European cities had.

“Munich and Frankfurt had beer and pretzels… their booth overlooked the Mediterranean,” he said.

Other booths served free lunches and cappuccino bars. Nevertheless, “everyone was there to do business.”

He said the team came home with 13 leads.

“One is coming to visit next month… a Montreal company,” said Peabody.

There’s another strong lead, a European company interested in building a data centre (internet data storage).

“Bruce County has four industrial parks,” said Peabody.

The Canadian dinner offered the opportunity for the Bruce County team to meet with a lot of Quebec investors, he said.

One potential lead came to the Bruce County booth, despite its basement location.

“I was sitting there by myself; nothing much was happening. Two people from Hyundai Investments in Korea – the real estate branch of the company – came by. Jeff (Loney) will follow up on that,” said Peabody.

One event he found quite interesting was a forum for municipal leaders hosted by the London School of Business on affordable housing.

“European cities are having the same problems we are,” Peabody said. “It was a good discussion… good to be able to participate in.”

A breakfast meeting he attended on investment in long-term care also proved interesting, especially when the co-ordinator found out he was a municipal leader and asked him to speak to the group – which he did.

“I pitched on ‘open for business,’” he said, “and also spoke on long-term care.”

The conference came at a time of considerable political unrest in France and the rest of Europe, with train and air travel hampered by strikes.

Peabody said he and his wife Donna stayed at a hotel outside of Cannes, but only a 10-minute trip by train from the conference.

“That 10-minute trip took an hour,” he said.

The day after the conference, he and his wife took a train trip into the Alps. To their surprise, there were only about five people on the train. And then they found out why. It was the last train through, due to the strike, leaving them temporarily stranded in a small village. However, a bus got them to Italy, where a train took them along the coast.

“Fortunately, we had our passports with us,” he said.

At this week’s meeting of Bruce County council, Peabody, Charbonneau and Loney will be giving reports on the conference.

The county came to have a booth at MIPIM by winning a national award that involved the opportunity to promote Bruce County on the international stage at MIPIM 2023. The award was offered through the Economic Developers Association of Canada.

The application required the county’s economic development team to prepare a test case for the identification and promotion of Bruce.

The prize, valued at approximately $15,000, included a booth in the Canadian section of the MIPIM event, four registrations for delegates, access to the database of investors prior to the event, onsite media relations, a free article in the MIPIM news section, and inclusion in the Canadian-focused networking opportunities.

Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times