Present: Carol Armstrong, McMurrich/Monteith; Dave Gray, CDO Burk’s Falls/Armour/Ryerson; David Stewart, Almaguin Highlands Inc.; Courtney Rizzo, CDO Kearney/Magnetawan/McMurrich Monteith/Perry; John Santarosa, EDO CAEDA; Carole Mantha, MNDM; Denise Sherritt, The Business Center.
Regrets: Rosalind Hall, Ryerson Township; Kim Bester, Deputy Clerk Powassan; Jessica Busch, WORC; Karen Insley, Cottage Pain Clinic; Wanda Schamehorn, McMurrich 125th Committee
All in favour.
Thank you to Employment North for hosting.
Carol Armstrong/McMurrich Monteith
Carol reported that there will be a Community Clean-up in Sprucedale on May 7th, and a BBQ for volunteers after. McMurrich is continuing with the planning of the 125th festival.
Carol also stated that she would like to see local businesses invited to the AHED meetings, so there are opportunities to learn about the businesses, and the private sector will be able to see what happens at AHED meetings.
Denise Sherritt/ The Business Center and The Labour Market Group
Denise provided an update on the Labour Market Group – Results of the LMG’s 2015 EmployerOne survey has been released, with approximately 200 employers across Nipissing and Parry Sound have completed the survey. Over 850 businesses responded to the EmployerOne survey across Northern Ontario. LMG continues to produce monthly labour market publications for Parry Sound Region. They are also working on their monthly Job Vacancy study. In March, there were 124 job vacancies posted through various media sources. This represents a 21.6% increase from the previous month, and 27.3% increase over the past 8-month average. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to receive LMG publications.
Denise also provided an update on the Business Center - provided a rack card on offerings from the Business Center, including: one-on-one consultations, business plan assistance, marketing research, and business development workshops. Another page describing the various programs was also provided. Another program they are working on is the Micro-Lending for Women, which will be available for Parry Sound in July, and in June or next January for North Bay.
Carole Mantha/ Ministry of Northern Development and Mines
Carole reported on the ongoing BR&E project. It is winding down and the deadline for interviews is April 22, 2016. The Leadership meeting for the BR&E will be taking place on May 10th, and will facilitate discussion to review results and develop actions.
Carole also reported that April 29th is the District of Parry Sound Municipal Association in Kearney, where a BR&E update will be provided by the consultants.
Carole also briefly mentioned Dave Wright and the Bike Development meeting held on April 11, 2016. Many influential people attended, including Ron Begin, Discovery Routes representatives from North Bay, MTO, and other bike advocates.
Carole also provided an update on the RED funding. Rural Economic Development funding under OMAFRA has been suspended, and they are looking at redeveloping the program, or creating a different type of program.
John Santarosa/ CAEDA EDO
John reported on the progress of the BR&E project for CAEDA. There have been 73 interviews completed in 4 months, and the results that are being seen already are similar to that of the EmployerOne survey. John is also looking at updating the CAEDA office, and will be revisiting their Strategic Plan. John has been working with multiple businesses looking to expand or start-up on the Central Almaguin area, including proponents from the manufacturing industry.
Courtney Rizzo/ CDO Kearney, Perry, Magnetawan and McMurrich/Monteith
Courtney elaborated on the Bicycle Plan for Magnetawan and area. Dave Wright will incorporate 4 pillars for this project, including GPS bike routes, signage, bike racks around town, and becoming an official “Bike Friendly” town on OntarioByBike.ca. There are plans to make this project a more regional effort, extending to South River, Sundridge, and Burk’s Falls. Explorer’s Edge has suggested that if the project becomes bigger and includes the entire region, there is potential to access funding for signage through their Partnership Program.
Courtney also provided an update on the Shop Local Campaign for KPMM. There are approximately 30 businesses involved, and 5 businesses who have sponsored the event. The project is meant to promote customers to shop at new places, or spend more money then they might usually. The expected launch date for the event is May 13th, 2016.
Dave Stewart/ Almaguin Web Services
Dave reported on branding initiatives taken by Muskoka. Their marketing strategy of using “communities” to connect all towns is similar to what Almaguin Highlands is trying to do. Dave stated that it is important to keep the promotions of Almaguin within our region, in order to keep our area strong.
Dave Gray/ CDO Burk’s Falls, Armour and Ryerson
Dave reported on the progress for the Almaguin Highlands Chamber of Commerce community guide. All EDO’s will be updating the events guide, by providing the dates for all local annual events. EDO’s will also be updating the business directory for the community guide. The community guide will be launched at FAB16, on June 11.
Dave also provided an update on the progress of the “Villages of Almaguin” branding initiative. This new tourism brand is focusing on the communities in Almaguin Highlands, where the word “villages” has an allure to encourage people to visit. This brand will not be replacing Almaguin Highlands as the initial branding, but instead is a branch of Almaguin Highlands, similar the Celebrate Almaguin, which celebrates the events in the region. The Villages of Almaguin is meant to create repetition and consistency across the region. The next step of the initiative is to gain support from municipalities through the adoption of the logo, where they may opt in and create unique tag lines for each community. There will also be the development of promotional and advertising material, including banners, signage, and table clothes.
Dave also provided a brief statement that the Economic Alliance may be getting together again. All EDOs will meet to discuss regional collaboration and economic development ideas, which will be reported to AHED on a monthly basis. Dave would also like to see AHED show leadership in the region, and re-establish its purpose, which may increase attendance to the meetings.
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