Elsipogtog First Nation EDO spearheads business centre in community
Lynn Francis, the Director of Economic Development for the Elsipogtog First Nation, led a management team which successfully brought a pharmacy and grocery store to the community.
By Sam Laskaris
A never-give-up attitude paid off handsomely for Lynn Francis. For the past 20 years Francis has been employed by the Elsipogtop First Nation in New Brunswick. She’s spent the last nine of those years working as the First Nation’s Director of Economic Development.
In her current role Francis spent countless hours spearheading a project that had been talked about for almost 15 years. After years of talking about the Elsipogtog Commercial Development Centre, a facility with three tenant spaces, became a reality this past October as a pair of businesses opened their doors.
One of the stores is a Pharmasave, the first location of this nationwide pharmacy chain which is owned and operated by a First Nation. River of Fire Market, a 10,000-square foot grocery store, is also located in the centre.
Details of what business will be occupying the third rental space have yet to be officially announced. But a tenant is expected to be in the venue by early next year. Francis was in charge of a management team which kept the project alive all these years, despite numerous obstacles.
“I’m very proud of the work we did, along with the support of the Chief and council,” she said. For her dedicated efforts, primarily with the $10 million centre which opened last fall, Francis is one of the four nominees for Cando’s individual economic development officer of the year.
Winners in this category, as well as in the community and Aboriginal Private Sector Business categories, will be honoured at the Cando Conference this fall. This event will be held in late October in Fredericton, N.B. Francis and her management team maintained its quest for the business venture despite numerous changes within not only their only council but provincial officials as well.
“Each government pushed it forward step by step,” she said. The new businesses are employing about 50 Elsipogtog residents. “To see our community members working, and for them to have meaning and purpose, you can’t really explain that,” Francis said.