Present: Jeff Johnston, USCO; Carol Armstrong, McMurrich/Monteith; Jessica Busch, WORC; Lance Thrale, Kearney; Dave Stewart, Almaguin Highlands Inc.; Karen Insley Stewart, Almaguin Highlands Inc.; Les Rowley, Perry; Clark Gallagher, Chemex; Steve Munroe, Westwind Forestry; Lisa Cook, Business Centre of Nipissing/Parry Sound; Emily Ryan, IION; Judy Mulligan; Dave Gray, CDO Burk’s Falls/Armour/Ryerson; Roy Williamson, Kearney.
Business Arising (AHED Business):
Thank you to the Municipality of McMurrich/Monteith and Carol Armstrong for hosting this month’s meeting.
Jeff Johnston made a motion to remove the Declaration of Pecuniary Interest from the Agenda being that AHED is an informal sharing/networking group. Brief discussion was held around the table.
1st – Jeff Johnston 2nd – Steve Munroe All in Favor.
Dave Gray gave the group a report on this year’s Showcase Almaguin 2015, held at the Trout Creek Community Centre on March 23rd. The wrap-up report is included in this month’s attachments. The group commended Dave on his efforts, he did a fantastic job at organizing and hosting Showcase Almaguin 2015.
The group discussed ways to encourage small businesses to participate in Showcase Almaguin and take advantage of the many opportunities the event highlights – Jeff Johnston suggested putting together a one-pager, listing out programs, funding, and opportunities for small business in the Almaguin Highlands. Les Rowley inquired as to whether or not there was a master list somewhere of all of the events in the region – the Almaguin Highlands Visitor Guide was suggested as most recurring annual events are included in the publication. Dave Stewart discussed that his website has a calendar which includes many regional events but if people do not send him the information, he cannot post it to the site.
Lance indicated that he is attending AHED meetings to see how the group evolves and hear about local events, programs and opportunities within the Almaguin Highlands. Lance reported that the Town of Kearney has been approved for funding and will be hiring an Economic Development Intern within the next few weeks. This intern will be project driven, working on specific projects for the Town. There is an Economic Development Meeting taking place on May 22nd at 10:00 a.m. at the Kearney Community Centre.
Dave Stewart/Almaguin Highlands Inc.
Dave reported that Explorer’s Edge is looking for board members, anybody interested in tourism is welcome to apply. Dave sits on the Research Committee for Explorer’s Edge which focuses on researching tourism initiatives and their effectiveness. Dave also spoke about his website Almaguin Highlands Inc., saying that events can be posted if he receives the information – people have to let him know. Bill and Stephanie Booth also run a similar site, there is a lot of work involved with maintaining event listings. Dave is currently looking at upgrading his website for mobile use. Park 2 Park is currently in the process of putting monitors on the trail systems. Park 2 Park has increased it’s revenues with trail usage and Dave indicated that volunteers are already in place for the busy summer months.
Jessica reported that WORC is currently completing year end reporting. Clients served were very high this year with approximately 980 drop-ins, 720 phone calls and over 2,500 emails coming in to the Women’s Own Resource Centre. Throughout the year, there have also been 86 one to one consultations and numerous resume assistance. Business Plan assistance seems to be at the forefront of requests over the last 6 months. The next Almaguin Women’s Resource & Business Network Meeting will be taking place on Wednesday April 29th at Kudos Restaurant in Powassan with the Business Centre of Nipissing/Parry Sound presenting on their programs and services, focusing on the Micro-Lending for Women Program – for more information or to register please call 705-386-9672 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Karen Insley-Stewart/Almaguin Highlands Inc.
Karen is Dave Stewart’s partner in Almaguin Highlands Inc. Karen discussed a prototype that they are working with for a medical device for chronic back pain that is currently in use in the United States – Karen is seeking funding for 3D printing. Karen discussed the events calendar on the Almaguin Highlands Inc. website saying that people and tourists want to be able to look up information that is specific to towns/villages/municipalities. Karen also commended Dave on the Showcase Almaguin Report saying that the report was very thorough, the budget information was appreciated. Karen further stated that the networking component of Showcase Almaguin is very important in considerations for following years.
Les Rowley/Perry Township
This is Les’s first AHED meeting. Les asked if anyone at the table had heard anything about the Kearney Graphite Mine – Lance Thrale and Jeff Johnston indicated that the mine has been bought out by an investment company who are looking to have the mine operational by the Fall of 2016. Les also commented on the Huntsville Hospital stating that voices from the Almaguin Highlands must be heard as the potential closing/downgrading would impact our region heavily. There is a Board Meeting to be held on May 14th in Bracebridge.
This is Clark’s first AHED meeting. Chemex is a company based out of the UK which provides cleaning/sanitary products such as drain cleaners and chemical pucks. Clark is new to the area and is currently visiting and promoting his products at local campgrounds in the Almaguin Highlands. Many AHED members gave Clark suggestions of potential markets he could target. Clark can be reached at CGallagher@chemexcanada.com
Steve Munroe/Westwind Forestry
Steve gave the group a brief update on invasive species to watch for in the area – Beech Bark Disease could potentially devastate our area forests killing 95% of all Beech trees, it is currently in South Muskoka but has not yet made it’s way into the Almaguin Highlands; the Emerald Ash Boar – minimal damage expected as less than 3% of our forests are ash trees; the Asian Longhorn Beetle – again, can be devastating, if you see these beetles, please report them immediately. Steve discussed a program for landowners which encourages those with over 1 hectare(2.5 acres) of open land, to plant trees – Westwind Forestry will plant the trees on the owner’s property at a cost of $0.30/tree – they plant roughly 750,000 trees each year. There will be a meeting of the Near North Woodlot Association at Caswell’s Resort at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday April 18th – all are welcome. Steve encouraged the group to take a look at the Georgian Bay Biosphere “Amazing Places Project”. Amazing Places is a mapping project launched by the Fundy Biosphere Reserve in New Brunswick. It began with the desire to guide visitors beyond the national park boundaries, and especially promote hiking in the region’s vast but unknown trail networks. Through the support of the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport, three biosphere reserves in Ontario are launching an Ontario Amazing Places pilot project, which will highlight the biospheres’ unique environmental significance for interpretation and trail planning. Check out more information at http://www.gbbr.ca/healthy-economy/amazing-places/
Steve indicated that there is a shortage of truck drivers and trucks in the area for transporting logs.
Lisa Cook/Business Centre of Nipissing-Parry Sound
This is Lisa’s first AHED meeting – she has taken over since Carly’s departure. The business centre provides 1:1 consulting, coaching, youth programs and much more. Lisa spoke about the Summer Company program which gives full-time students between the ages of 15 and 29, the opportunity to run their own small business over the summer. Starter Company which is a comprehensive entrepreneurship development program designed to assist youth 18 to 29 years old and to launch a new business or expand an existing business – there is no cost to participants and you have a chance to get funding of up to $5,000. There are four intakes annually for the 12 week Starter Company Program. The FedNor Business Plan Challenge is open to all students currently enrolled in high school, students are not required to be enrolled in business or marketing classes. The purpose of this program is to introduce students to entrepreneurship by developing either a viable business plan or marketing plan – finalists are selected to present their business ideas to a panel of judges at the final awards ceremony and compete for cash prizes.
IION provides mentoring, access to public and private funding, and coaching among other services. The Step Forward Entrepreneurs is open for applications for those seeking $5,000 - $10,000 to put towards sales and marketing, business development or product development. This program is specifically aimed at assisting small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) who show the potential to create jobs and grow the economy. Emily reported that 18 businesses in the Almaguin Highlands accessed this funding last year. Emily also reported that IION has used all dollars from the Innovative Manufacturing and Facilitation Program, they are hoping to get the next instalment of funding soon. IION has recently launched a new program called the Youth Entrepreneurship Placement Program which is an internship involving experiential and educational learning for youth (18-29) interested in entrepreneurship and is funded by FedNor. This program will provide small to medium sized enterprises funding to hire qualified workers for 16 weeks (May – August) increasing their ability to innovate and commercialize. All positions have been filled for the Summer of 2015.
Carol Armstrong/McMurrich Monteith
Carol sits on the Recreation Committee and reported that they are busy planning for the annual Summer Spectacular – Market Garden, BINGO, kids games, Senior Corn Roast and much more. Carol also reported on the Economic Development Meeting that was held at the Community Centre – a Board was set up including a project manager. Numerous items of interest were discussed, including upcoming events and signage. The next Economic Development Meeting will be held on May 19th at the Sprucedale Community Centre at 7:30 p.m.
Judy was encouraged to come by Carol and is here to learn and find out more about what is happening in the Almaguin Highlands. Judy’s son was a participant in the Summer Company Program, she is pleased to see these services here.
Dave Gray/CDO Burk’s Falls, Armour, Ryerson
Dave handed out the Almaguin Highlands Community Guide Rates form, the new guide is underway and they have a great designer lined up to overview the project. If you have any annual events that you would like to see included in the guide, please contact Dave. The Festival of Almaguin Business (FAB15), run by a partnership between the Almaguin Highlands Chamber of Commerce and the Central Almaguin Economic Development Association, is quickly approaching – the event will take place on Saturday May 23rd in the Burk’s Falls Downtown and Arena from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The event features music on 3 different stages, Rusty the Clown, Face Painting, Magic Show, Fire Dept. Demonstration, Trade Show, Street Fair, Art Show and much more. For more information, or to register for a booth, please call Adam Killah at 705-384-9430
Dave also announced an upcoming concert/fundraiser for the music programs at Almaguin Highlands and Land of Lakes – “The Brawl in the Hall” is taking place on Friday May 8th at 7:00 p.m., tickets are $5 and can be purchased through many – please see attached flyer for more information. Dave also encouraged the group to tune in to Hunter’s Bay Radio on Monday’s at 3:30 p.m. for “Celebrate Almaguin”, a new radio show that highlights regional information and events, hosted by Dave Gray and Adam Killah.
Jeff is the president of the United Senior Citizens of Ontario – Zone 39. The Zone Meeting will be taking place on May 13th. Jeff discussed him having a booth at Showcase Almaguin for the USCO. The Kearney Seniors Monthly Meeting will be held on April 30th at 1:30 p.m. with Constable Louise Maki presenting on Elder Abuse. The May meeting (on May 28th) will have Stephen Darling presenting on Insurance. Jeff voiced concerns over the Huntsville Hospital and encouraged the group to have their voices heard – he asked if the issue would be brought up at the next Municipal Association Meeting. Jeff also briefly discussed the meeting held on March 31st with Myles Donahue from Habitat for Humanity and the potential for homes in the Almaguin Highlands, stating that the meeting was well attended.
Back to AHED Minutes and News