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Robinson joins Ritchot chamber

By: Jordan Ross

Posted: 02/13/2018 10:00 AM

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President Marc Palud of the Ritchot Regional Chamber of Commerce welcomes incoming executive director Fiona Robinson at the organization’s board room in Ile des Chenes.

JORDAN ROSS | THE CARILLON Enlarge Image

President Marc Palud of the Ritchot Regional Chamber of Commerce welcomes incoming executive director Fiona Robinson at the organization’s board room in Ile des Chenes.

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The new executive director of the Ritchot Regional Chamber of Commerce says she has experienced firsthand the Southeast’s bright entrepreneurial prospects since relocating to Niverville from Nanaimo, B.C. five months ago.

"It has been a shock, weather-wise," said Fiona Robinson, who since 2004 has owned Glue Commercialization, a company that shepherds companies through their journey to get goods and services to market.

Through B.C.’s Royal Roads University, Robinson is also completing a doctoral dissertation on ways to support creative entrepreneurship in rural regions.

"So it couldn’t really be a better fit," she said. "I have a special place in my heart for rural entrepreneurs."

Though still relatively new to southeast Manitoba, Robinson said she quickly became acquainted with its business climate while relocating her own company.

"We chose Manitoba because of the geographic location, the cost of business entry, the cost of commercial rent, and the cost of commercial lease," she explained.

As she launches a second business, an online green laundry detergent start-up called Konidel, Robinson said her conversations with the RM of Ritchot have been promising.

"I knew it was a good place that supported business and that was very entrepreneurial," she said.

Robinson transitioned Friday into the part-time executive director position, following an introductory meeting with the chamber’s 12-member board the day before.

She replaces Yvette Bernat, who accepted a new full-time position as facilities manager of Ile des Chenes’ TransCanada Centre, said Marc Palud, who succeeds Larry Niebel as chamber president.

In addition to hosting its annual summer golf tournament and fall awards gala, Palud said the chamber’s 2018 goals are to enhance branding, ensure financial viability, and grow membership, which currently stands at 71 members, a figure he said could double.

Robinson said she also wants to help rural and home-based businesses navigate common hurdles like transportation.

She also hopes to foster more peer support among entrepreneurs through regular networking events hosted at local businesses.

"I see this as a land of opportunity, as opposed to a land of challenges," she remarked.

Palud said the chamber plans to hold a member meet and greet event with Robinson in the near future.

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