The Island Advance Advisory Board is made up of skilled and experienced entrepreneurs and business people from across Prince Edward Island. Their role is to provide strategic guidance to Island Advance and champion entrepreneurship in P.E.I.
Ron Keefe, Retired CEO, BioVectra Inc.
Ron Keefe retired as CEO of BioVectra Inc. in 2015 with an impressive career, including being named a Top 50 CEO of Atlantic Canada. He is current President of the Regis Duffy BioScience Fund Inc., and a current member and past Chairman of the Board of the P.E.I. BioAlliance Inc. He’s also a past president of the United Way of Prince Edward Island and a former director of the Bank of Canada. In 2012 Ron chaired the Island Advance Task Force and assumed the position of Island Advance Advisory Board Chair in 2013.
"We have limited natural resources, but we are not limited in our entrepreneurial spirit. We need to encourage and support our entrepreneurs."
Matthew Jelley, President, Maritime Fun Group
Originally from Summerside, PEI, Matthew had an entrepreneurial spirit at an early age helping with his family’s trailer rental business and working at Sandspit Amusement Park. In 1999, along with his 3 brothers, they purchased Magic Mountain Waterpark, creating the foundations for the Maritime Fun Group of Companies, which now also includes Shining Waters Family Fun Park, Sandspit Cavendish Beach, Burlington Amusement Park and 7 other attractions. He is currently also the Chair of the Cavendish Resort Municipality and had served as the President of the Cavendish Beach and Dune Shores Tourism Association from 2007 to 2013. In 2013, Matthew was presented with the TAIPEI Lieutenant-Governor’s Award for his “significant contribution to the development of tourism in Prince Edward Island.”
"We need more entrepreneurs in government making it more efficient, more entrepreneurs in large organizations to keep them innovating, more entrepreneurs taking over existing businesses. Entrepreneurship is in many locations, in many forms, and it’s important to promote that and let people know there’s opportunity out there."
Wayne Carew, President, Confederation M&A
Wayne has garnered a depth of senior executive and business experience throughout his career, which has included work in healthcare, post-secondary education, arts and culture, and the automobile industry. His volunteer and community service work includes serving as Board Chair for Slemon Park Corporation, and as a member of the Prince County Hospital Foundation and the National Board of the Canada Games. Wayne’s combined professional and volunteer experience provide him with a broad view of P.E.I.’s business community. He lives in Stanley Bridge, P.E.I.
"We need strong entrepreneurs to grow our Island economy. We need to strengthen and support the existing primary industries, but seek new areas where we, as an Island, can become a centre of excellence."
Amy MacFarlane, CPA, CA, Assistant Professor, UPEI School of Business
Prior to joining the business faculty at UPEI, Amy was a Senior Manager in the audit practice of KPMG Cayman Islands where she managed a complex portfolio of audit clients. She specialized primarily in the areas of structured finance and alternative investments. Amy has also worked in the consulting practice of MRSB Chartered Accountants in Charlottetown, and the audit and tax practices of Ernst & Young in Vancouver. In addition to teaching accounting at UPEI, Amy is also currently a faculty member of the CPA Atlantic School of Business. Amy is Past President and Chair of the Board of PEI Bag Company, an Island manufacturing company that has supplied packaging solutions to the agricultural, fishing and food industries since 1935. Her leadership as Vice-President and founding Director was instrumental in the formation of Green Diamond Equipment, a John Deere dealership group that has grown to 13 locations across the Maritimes. Amy remains an active owner in both these businesses today.
"Fostering an entrepreneurial culture is key to sustainable economic growth for our Island. We need to create our own opportunities and believe our goals are achievable right here at home."
Jason Aspin, CEO, Aspin Kemp & Associates
Co-founder of AKA, Jason has over twenty years of progressive experience in systems engineering in marine, offshore petroleum and industrial environments. As an innovator and design engineer, he dedicates a considerable amount of his time to designing solutions which solve real industry problems and are both socially and environmentally responsible. AKA has offices around the globe, including four locations in P.E.I., and is celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2016.
"I’m supportive of entrepreneurship in P.E.I. because I believe we can really be a world leader in many areas if we put our minds to it. If we build solutions that are cutting-edge that other people can use as models, that’s something we can really sell."
Kevin Murphy, President/Owner, Murphy Hospitality Group
Kevin was born in Prince Edward Island and graduated in 1979 from the University of Prince Edward Island with his Bachelor of Business Administration. In 1980, Kevin Murphy founded Murphy Investments Ltd. which would later come to be known as Murphy Hospitality Group. The company’s winning formula has allowed the Murphy Hospitality Group to grow significantly over the last 37 years to 15 locations in Nova Scotia and P.E.I.
"We need to support and mentor young Islanders to become successful business people, who create jobs and grow our economy. Imagine if every Island business owner created one job – our economy would thrive and unemployment would be reduced. We must believe we can be the solution to our economic problems."
Cory Gray, Owner, The Gray Group
Cory Gray comes from an entrepreneurial family. His parents opened the first Vogue Optical in Charlottetown in 1979. The Gray family went on to build Vogue to a 65-store enterprise. They also founded The Gray Group, a real estate development company that develops, acquires and leases commercial properties. With a portfolio comprising of more than 55 properties and over 370,000 square feet, The Gray Group is a leading real estate development company in Atlantic Canada. More recently, The Gray Group has diversified and is now the parent company of Island Drafting, Cornwall KOA and H-Line Enterprises. Cory and The Gray Group support many local charities, including Canadian Red Cross, Children’s Wish Foundation, QEH Foundation, and Stars for Life Foundation.
"I strongly believe that Island Advance’s three main areas of focus of embracing entrepreneurship, improving access to capital, and attracting, integrating and retaining entrepreneurial immigrants are necessary if P.E.I. is to move towards a private sector-led economy."
Wes MacAleer, President, Wesmac Holdings Ltd.
Wes spent 18 years in the Northwest Territories, where he helped introduce cable television and satellite communications technology to the region. As a politician, he represented the electoral district of Charlottetown-Spring Park and was in the provincial cabinet as Minister of Economic Development and Tourism. Wes now runs a successful investment company with his wife Connie. Together they support numerous small business ventures.
"Basically, entrepreneurship is about a person finding someone else with a need and trying to provide a good or service to fulfill that need. In this way, entrepreneurship is about the pursuit of an opportunity, the chance to solve another person’s problem successfully. So, we start with an idea."
Ed Lawlor, Founder, Deltaware Systems
Ed was the founder and CEO of DeltaWare Systems Inc., a highly successful IT company located in Charlottetown. DeltaWare has been recognized nationally and internationally as a leader in innovative eHealth and eBusiness technology solutions. Ed has received a number of personal awards, including one of Atlantic Canada’s Top 50 CEOs by Atlantic Business magazine and, in 2003, induction into the JA PEI Business Hall of Fame. In 2010, DeltaWare was acquired by MAXIMUS INC, a global eHealth solutions company. Ed retired in 2013, but continues to take pride in the fact that innovative Island companies like DeltaWare support the economy, create jobs and help advance the local IT sector.
"I, along with many others, was fortunate to be educated and to have a chance to develop a career in a period where opportunity and choice were abundant. It is important that our business, education and government leaders continue to advance economic growth in PEI. Within this undertaking, encouraging innovation and entrepreneurship among our youth is critical."
Kim Green, Owner/General Manager, Kays Wholesale
Kim worked as National Sales Manager for Delta Hotels and Resorts in Toronto from 1990 to 1995. She took the opportunity to move back to P.E.I. and work for Rodd Hotels and Resorts as VP of Sales and Marketing until 2001. Kim was also the CEO of Tourism Charlottetown and the P.E.I. Convention Partnership from 2003 to 2009. She transitioned into entrepreneurship later in her career and now owns Kays Wholesale in Charlottetown, a business to business Wholesaler selling to businesses across P.E.I. and the Maritimes.
"I support entrepreneurship because I strongly believe that we must support and drive the P.E.I. economy so our province will have economic health and perhaps many of our people will not be forced to leave to find employment."
Kent Scales, CEO, Scales Group of Companies
Kent owns numerous successful businesses across P.E.I., including Robin’s Donuts, ServiceMaster P.E.I. and Advantage Communications. He also maintains investments in several start-ups and is known as a generous and supportive mentor to many aspiring entrepreneurs. He served as Deputy Minister of Tourism from 2004 to 2007, and as CEO of P.E.I. Business Development from 2000 to 2004.
"If we can foster a culture of entrepreneurship in P.E.I. we will have more people providing employment opportunities for Islanders and more people creating solutions that will be used across the world. We have the chance now to support something that will grow our economy and help to put P.E.I. on the map."
Tim Banks, CEO and Founder, APM Group
Tim is a Certified Engineering Technologist with over 30 years of experience in all aspects of real estate development, property management, leasing and construction. APM operates Canada-wide with offices in Charlottetown, Halifax, Toronto and Calgary providing construction and development services to a host of local, regional and national clients. In 2008 Tim was inducted into the Atlantic Business Hall of Fame, 2013 installed as a Holland College Distinguished Alumni member, 2013 was as a recipient of QEII Diamond Jubilee Medal and was inducted into the Junior Achievement P.E.I. Hall of Fame in 2015.
Alex MacBeath, Retired CEO, Grant Thornton Canada
Alex received his B Sc. from UPEI and his MBA from Dalhousie University. A member of the Canadian, Ontario and Prince Edward island Institutes of Chartered Accountants, he received his CA designation in 1979 from the Island Institute and was awarded his FCA from the Ontario Institute in 2001. Twenty-six of his 35 years with Grant Thornton LLP were as partner and he was CEO and Executive Partner from 2001 until 2008. From 2008 until his retirement in 2012, he was Global Leader of Markets and Regional Leader for Asia Pacific at Grant Thornton International, based in London, UK. Alex now resides at Gladstone, P.E.I. and serves on multiple not-for-profit boards.
"Island entrepreneurs can compete nationally and internationally. Developing an entrepreneurial ecosystem and ensuring they have access to the necessary capital will support their long term success and contribute to sustainable economic growth for the Island."
Amber James, Co-founder, Gradpeek
Born and raised in rural PEI, Amber has paved her path to entrepreneurship through three main ventures: Gradpeek (Co-founder), Lili & Maddi (District Manager) and Charlottetown Truck & Rec. (Lot Manager). Amber recently completed her BBA at UPEI where she was honored to receive the Harry W. MacLauchlan Scholarship in Entrepreneurial Leadership.