Gala celebrating Almaguin success stories makes comeback

The Rural Economic Development (RED) Gala is back later this month after being MIA the last two years because of the pandemic.

And there is “definite anticipation” for the event's return according to Dave Gray, the director of Almaguin Community Economic Development (ACED).

ACED is one of the principal organizations that puts on the RED Gala and Gray says it's an important event.

“The RED Gala draws community partners and people outside our borders and it was started to highlight what we've been able to accomplish together in the economic development forum,” Gray said.

“Economic development remains a relatively new department in Almaguin when you look at the history of all the municipalities working together. And the gala is a mixture of a lot of different groups that help drive our economy.”

Gray says among the organizations that fall into this group are the Almaguin Chamber of Commerce, the Women's Own Resource Centre, the Labour Market Group and the Community Futures Development Corporation known as NECO.

Gray adds support also comes from the federal and provincial governments with programs like FedNor and the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation.

“A lot of what we've been able to accomplish has been heavily supported by the federal and provincial governments,” Gray said.

“So it's important that our elected officials be here because they help fight for us at those higher levels. And being at the gala lets them see the fruits of their labour.”

Last but not least to keep advancing economic development are the municipal governments in Almaguin as well as the many businesses that generate jobs and revenue for the region.

Those attending the event will hear about success stories across the region and network with other groups and people.

The RED Gala is relatively new with this being the fourth gala taking place in the Almaguin Highlands since it was first started a few years before COVID.

Gray said something new the gala did in 2019, the last time it was held, was to invite several civic-minded students from Almaguin Highlands Secondary School and their teacher so the students can hear first hand what's going on in the region from an economic development standpoint.

Gray said the students are invited again this year.

The RED Gala attracts a very large crowd and this year about 150 people are expected.

It also moves around and this time the event is taking place at the Sundridge Strong Joly Arena.

Other communities to host the RED Gala in the past include Burk's Falls and Powassan.

The RED Gala's special guest speaker is Sueling Ching who is the Chief Executive Officer of The Ottawa Board of Trade, an organization that provides a unified and influential voice for Ottawa businesses. The RED Gala is a private event and not open to the public.

Individuals and groups who plan to attend the gala have to RSVP their intentions online to by noon on Nov. 21.

Tickets are $20 with the proceeds going to the various food banks in Almaguin.

The RED Gala takes place Nov. 28.

Rocco Frangione is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the North Bay Nugget. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

Rocco Frangione, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The North Bay Nugget