Helping to build community

A $1.2 million commitment from The Sobey Foundation will help the Pictou County Partnership increase support to small businesses, nonprofits and newcomers.

Darrah DeYoung Main Pictou County resized

If someone had told Darrah DeYoung two years ago that she’d become an entrepreneur, she never would have believed them. But now, as owner of the wildly popular Baked & Boujee Cheesecakes, being her own boss is Darrah’s new way of life. “The business has become my second baby. I love it. And I had no idea that I had this within me. I didn't know that I had any kind of brain for business.”

Turns out Darrah has plenty of business acumen. “She is a natural entrepreneur,” says Wade Tibbo, Chief Executive Officer, Pictou County Partnership, which provided the critical support to Darrah’s success. “Her story is inspiring to aspiring entrepreneurs, especially women and young moms. Darrah took the ‘if they can do it, I can do it’ attitude and she has really succeeded in her first year.”

That’s not to say it's been easy. Owning and growing a business has had plenty of challenges, including red tape and growing pains. That’s where the Pictou County Partnership comes in, guiding small businesses like Darrah’s. “The role we play is navigating those small businesses to the resources that they need to overcome challenges and seize opportunities,” says Wade.

This funding is going to transform the ability of the Pictou County Partnership, our regional development network, to provide wraparound support and services to our not-for-profit organizations.

Lisa MacDonald

CAO, Town of New Glasgow

A new funding commitment from The Sobey Foundation to the Town of New Glasgow has been earmarked for the Pictou County Partnership, enabling the organization to build capacity and extend its impact to the community. A total of $1.2 million over the next five years will allow the Partnership to expand its support to the Pictou County business community to include the community impact sector which encompasses non-profits, not-for-profits and community groups. Core funding will go towards hiring program leads and grant writers to help support nonprofits in accessing resources and building capacity.

“This funding is going to transform the ability of the Pictou County Partnership, our regional development network, to provide wraparound support and services to our not-for-profit organizations,” says Lisa MacDonald, Town of New Glasgow CAO. “The organizations will be able to build capacity, putting them on the path to sustainability and growth so that they can enhance their mandates to be real difference makers in our community.”

The Partnership also helps newcomers to the area connect with volunteer opportunities in community impact organizations, allowing them to use their talents in a way that will positively impact their new communities. 

The Pictou County Partnership collaborates with colleagues from the provincial government to drive innovation and growth in the region. From left, Wade Tibbo (CEO, Pictou County Partnership), Sarah Santos (Community Connections Coordinator, Pictou County Partnership), Becky Cowen (Director, Immigration and Community Integration, Pictou County Partnership), Jocelyn Pierre (Community Navigator, Province of Nova Scotia Department of Labour, Skills and Immigration).

“What we are really trying to achieve with this specific funding is increasing the capacity of our community building and supporting the community impact sector,” says Wade. “Our hope and vision as an economic development agency is that jobs and growing our business community is not our only focus. We are looking at the entire community and everyone who calls Pictou County home, and ensuring that they have the best quality of life possible.”


Summer Street Industries is just one example of an organization dedicated to bringing the best quality of life possible to its participants. The social enterprise in New Glasgow creates and facilitates opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities with the goal of providing choices that help each person achieve a meaningful work-life balance of their choosing. 

The organization works with the Pictou County Partnership regularly, says Bob Bennett, Summer Street Executive Director. “Wade and his team get it. They want to help us and we want to help them. They move in circles that we don't move in, they're in conversations that we aren't. And having the Partnership out there as our ambassador, even though it's unofficial, is very helpful and carries a lot of weight.”

Summer Street offers a full range of programs and services to meet the diverse needs of the people it serves. Its businesses include event catering and co-packing agreements with a number of local producers such as Big Cove Foods, Chapel Cove Chocolate and Bramble Hill Farm. A closed environment agriculture facility is also in the works. 

Part of Summer Street’s mission is not just to help provide employment opportunities, but also to help people with intellectual disabilities integrate into the wider community. Bob wants conversations about events catered by Summer Street to be about the great food and amazing service; the fact that the organization employs people with diverse abilities is just a bonus. “We want people to see people with diverse abilities on an equal playing field,” says Bob. “Our participants want to be contributing to the community.” 


Darrah started her cheesecake business in January 2023, borrowing money from her mom to make her first products and then giving out samples to friends and family. After a neighbour posted about the delicious treat, Darrah’s calendar filled up with orders. “It seriously exploded overnight,” says Darrah, still amazed by the turn of events. “It feels so right that this is what I'm doing. The challenges, they're just obstacles. There's never been a point in this journey where I thought this is it, I'm done.”

Darrah first heard about the Pictou County Partnership when she was approached about taking part in a seminar. “They were having a workshop for people who are trying to take their side hustle to the next level and they asked me if I wanted to be on the panel,” says Darrah. “My jaw dropped. I just couldn't believe that anyone cared enough to hear what I had to say.”

Thanks in part to the support from the partnership, Darrah’s business is booming. “I’m always telling people to go into the Partnership. Something cool always happens every time I leave there, because I'm either meeting someone, or I'm inspired by a new idea, or I get a little pep talk and I have the courage to take the next step. Their guidance has been key.”

Darrah, who learned to bake with her mom and grandmother, has done more than 200 variations, including s'mores, lots of chocolate, and coconut cream, one of her grandmother's favourite flavours. 
“I’m always trying to make the connection from food to family. It's more than food. Feeding people is my love language.”

Fans have been eating it up. “The people of Pictou County really want to see small businesses do well, and they really love to see a woman business owner succeed. You can feel the support – it's almost tangible,” says Darrah. 


Antje Hoare, who moved from Germany to Nova Scotia 20 years ago, knows what it means to have a place to find friendship, community, and belonging. 

For the past 10 years she and her husband have owned The Coffee Bean, a New Glasgow mainstay that was established by Antje’s mother-in-law in 1986. “We have lots of people who came as kids and they are coming back now,” says Antje who loves the friendships and connections that have formed over coffee and treats through the years. 

Antje tells the story of one customer who used to come to The Coffee Bean once a week with her mother. The two women would always have the same sandwich together – Mexican grilled cheese – while soaking up the atmosphere at the cafe. When the customer’s mom passed away, Antje didn’t see the younger woman for a while. “But after some time, she came back and now she comes in regularly to enjoy the same sandwich. Just to keep that memory going.”

Antje has sought out the help of the Pictou County Partnership for a number of reasons, including help when she was hiring through an immigration program. “It takes a long time and you really need help to get you through all this process. Not one person alone can do that.”

Supporting local businesses is vital to the work of the Partnership. It means that cafes and other places that act as gathering spots, can thrive and continue to provide those critical first connections for newcomers.  

Feeling welcome and integrating into the community is essential for newcomers who may not have family nearby, says Analu Caldas-MacEachern, Antje’s assistant. 

The time that Analu spent at The Coffee Bean when she first arrived from Brazil enabled her to strengthen her English, build relationships and put down roots. So much so that on a trip back to Brazil last year, she found herself longing for Pictou County. “I was visiting family and visiting my roots, but I wanted to come back home. I needed to come back home.” 

Fast Facts

The Pictou County Partnership is a not-for-profit organization tasked with driving economic development in Pictou County and is one of the Regional Enterprise Networks in the province. The Partnership started its operations in 2019.

In 2023, the Partnership:

  • helped 76 local employers become immigration-ready and learn how to use the provincial and federal immigration programs to support workforce growth and development.
  • participated in international recruitment missions representing Pictou County employers, creating an international talent pool of over 5,000 immigration-ready applicants for 28 different job roles.
  • supported a Nova Scotia healthcare employer with the arrival of 21 skilled-refugee healthcare professionals and their families.
  • connected with almost 400 local businesses and actively supported 125 business owners with their start-up, growth, and succession plans.

In 2024, the Partnership will:

  • expand their support to include the community impact sector, aiming to increase their capacity, secure grants, funding and other resources
  • foster an environment that supports the development of sustainable social enterprises
  • expand the Community Connections Volunteer Program to create impactful matches between newcomers and organizations.