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County’s EDO new CEO for Greater Peterborough economic development

Dan Taylor PEC EDOPrince Edward County will bid farewell to its Economic Development Officer this month as Dan Taylor takes on a new position as president and CEO of the Greater Peterborough Area Economic Development Corporation.
Prince Edward County Mayor Peter Mertens credits Taylor with being the driving force that has revitalized the County over the past decade and notes Peterborough has gained a great innovator.
Taylor, a Beaconsfield, Quebec native, came to the County in 2000 with his wife, Carrie, and their three children, to live their dream of becoming wine growers. They had left a life in Toronto where Dan had spent 15 years with entrepreneurial marketing and promotion agencies.
As the County’s EDO, he has drawn business and tourism to the county, promoting its wines, arts, culture and haute cuisine to the world.
“I came here because I wanted to grow grapes to support my habit,” Taylor chuckles. “I was apprenticing with Geoff Heinricks to learn how to grow grapes when I noticed a line in a Toronto Star article that said the County was looking for an EDO.”
Being hired at budget time, Taylor had mere weeks to produce a plan and a budget.
“Back then we had agriculture and tourism and beyond that it was a bit foggy. The arts, culture and heritage were clear to me but there was the ‘everything else’ category. We had the mushroom plant and the cement plant but not much more industry-wise. I knew if my job was to deliver factories I wouldn’t have a job. If all my eggs were in that basket I would have failed. Not everybody agreed with that. We just got our first factory of that kind of scale and calibre (new solar energy plant at the Industrial Park) in many, many years.
Highlights of accomplishments over the past decade include the inaugural Maple in the County event in 2001.
“Focusing on strengths is what I do best,” Taylor says. “I worked with farmers, business and community members and kicked off agriculture and tourism projects with things you could touch, see and taste. Maple in the County was one of the first things and 2,000 people showed up. This year just celebrated the 10th one with more than 8,000 visitors to the County. I learned a lot about marketing in a rural community by working with some super capable people.”
Taylor never lost sight of his love for wine and with $25,000, launched an investors guide to the County’s vineyards to profile the county and market its potential to grow quality wine grapes.
The beginnings of the industry were under way. In 1999, a group of Prince Edward County grape growers petitioned the provincial government for ability to open new wineries outside of designated viticulture areas. As a result, Waupoos Estates Winery was first winery to open in 2000.
The County’s Economic Development Office, in 2001, published ‘A Viticultural Primer for Investors and Growers (Starting a Vineyard in Prince Edward County?)’ written by Geoff Heinricks.
Dan wrote in the guide: “My objective for this guide is to provide growers and investors with as much information as is possible to base their land purchase, planting and growing decisions on. I would like to look out in ten years’ time at a sea of vines, their success influenced by this very publication.”
And it was so.
“We got 1,000 leads on that guide over the years. At first, nobody believed but a dozen-plus people, and the dreamers. Now we have world-class, award-winning wines. I was in the second wave and there were maybe a dozen vineyards and 20,000 vines. Now there’s 50 vineyards, 32 wineries and one million vines.”
Taylor is not phased by non-believers and recalls the birth of  the highly popular Taste the County events.  Taste The County’s Rebecca LeHeup, winery owner Richard Johnston and Taylor had edged their way into Ministry of Tourism culinary tourism initiative meetings.
“They didn’t want us at that table because we were nobody and now we’re the model. We made it happen because our community united. Before that, we were a culinary tourism destination but we just didn’t know it. We had the pieces, but not the package.”
Most recently, Taylor has focused the County’s strategy on its ‘Creative Rural Economy’ as a key foundation to enhancing and building quality of place – a key competitive advantage for economic development.
“Today we’re a modern, digital, creative rural economy. We’ve always had quality of place and quality of life here. Now we also have the technology, the people, the entrepreneurs. Not everybody understands the creative economy but it’s working.
He says the EDO office plans and executions contributed to more than $250 million in incremental investment to Prince Edward County over the past decade, which out-performed the province by 30 per cent and the nation by 10 per cent in job creation per capita (2001-2008 stats).
His only frustration during his time in the County was working with some “people who were expecting things to land with hundreds of jobs. Some people are holding on to an old model that won’t work and that’s frustrating, so I had a challenge with connecting with some people but I came to do a job and I did it. The bottom line is you can’t get investment unless there’s demand. Through all the good marketing work the community has built this wonderful brand. In 1999 we had 233,000 tourists who spent $25 million. In 2010 we had about 600,000 tourists who spent $100 million. That’s huge. The province’s goal was to double tourism dollars in nine years. We quadrupled in 10 years.
“I always look forward. It has been an awesome ride here and I’m proud and happy with my contributions. My job description was to grow the economy and I did that so I have zero regrets. I have a much bigger opportunity now. It will be a challenge and a lot of work. They have a five-year strategy in place but basically, they’re looking for what has been done here, so really, I will be scaling success to another county.
“I came to the County without a clear direction, but I think I’ve left a clear path.”
Taylor and his family will continue living in the County – for now.

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  1. Elizabeth Globe says:

    Best wishes Dan, I think you did an amazing job here in the County, and I know you will put the same amount of effort into your new job.

  2. Ray Facette-Grondin says:

    Congrads Dan, Good luck with your new adventure.

  3. Mary Attersley says:

    Dan, wishing you and your family all the very, very best as you embark on your new venture…take care.

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