Present: Jessica Busch, WORC; Dave Gray, CDO Burk’s Falls/Armour/Ryerson; Carol Armstrong, McMurrich/Monteith; Courtney Rizzo, EDO KPMM; Bill Booth, Service Works/Almaguin.com; Kimberly Bester, Powassan; Henning Golle, The Business Centre. John Santarossa, CAEDA
Thank you to the Village of South River for hosting this month’s meeting.
AHED Member Verbally inquired about the Terms of Reference
Reports from Community and Resource Partners
Carol Armstrong/McMurrich, Monteith
Carol reported that the Winter Carnival was a great success with a big thank you going out to the volunteers who ensured the success of this event. There will be an upcoming Easter parade held on April 8th from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the Community Centre located on William Street. Activities will be offered – an Easter egg hunt, games, crafts and snacks.
Courtney Rizzo/EDO KPMM
Courtney informed the group that there will be a public meeting held on March 9th at 6:30 p.m. at the Magnetawan Community Centre to discuss the establishment of a Magnetawan River Park – all are welcome. There will be a Funder’s Forum held on March 1st at the Magnetawan Community Centre from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. – all are welcome. A new shop local campaign is being launched and will run from May 19th to June 23rd, Courtney reported that numerous businesses are participating this round – winners will be announced July 1st in conjunction with Canada Day events. Courtney is also working on putting together a Job Fair at Almaguin Highlands Secondary School – more information to come.
Bill Booth/Service Works, Almaguin.com
Bill shared some stats about the Almaguin.com website which is in it’s 15th year this year. Over the course of last year, Bill had over 4,368,000 visits to his website with weather information being the most popular – spiking in the winter time around 7-8 a.m. The event calendar also saw many hits – averaging approximately 200,000/month. Along with the high number of visitors to the site last year, there has also been a dramatic rise in emails requesting information regarding trails, accommodations, etc. Bill voiced concern over the lack of a centralized point of focus for the tourism sector stating that he is often unsure of where to send people where they can get answers to different questions. With the funding loss to the Information Centre’s in the province, all are now being run by local businesses whose main focus, understandably, is on their business and less about marketing the area as a whole. Bill inquired as how to connect all digital information stating that the focus needs to be region wide and accessible by mobile. Discussion at the table indicated that the Almaguin Highlands Chamber of Commerce’s BR&E plan that was unveiled last year should address some of these regional issues.
Kim reported that The Pat Haufe Food Summit will be taking place on April 8th at 250 Clark Street in Powassan with a free seed exchange, demos, door prizes, workshops and more – tickets can be purchased in advance at the Library or at the White Owl Bistro – tickets are $10 in advance or $15 at the door. The 20th Annual Maple Syrup Festival will be taking place on April 22nd in Powassan as well with more vendors, an amateur lumberjack competition, a blues band from Sudbury along with a few more singers throughout the day, Science North and other activities in the Community Centre and on the street. Bikers Battling Cancer will be taking place over the July long weekend with Canada Festivities along with three tribute bands – KISS, Keith Urban, Blue Rodeo. Kim also briefly reported on the purchase of the old Public School in Powassan stating that the Municipality is planning to make the move to that building within the next couple of years and building a Community Hub concept with multiple organizations, services and resources all under one roof.
Jessica reported that EST (Entrepreneurial Skills Training) and LST (Life Skills Training) are about halfway through the sessions – low registration with EST this round however above normal registration for LST. February’s R&B Meeting will be held at Highlander Brew Co. with Sue van Kessel speaking on Essential Oils. The March Meeting will be held at Lulu’s with Louise Morin speaking on Service Canada. Jessica also reported that WORC has been approved for continued funding for the 2017/18 year and has also been approved to hire an intern with funding from NOHFC – interviews will be conducted over the next couple of weeks with an intern hopefully starting April 1st. Jessica also mentioned that South River Winterfest is taking place this weekend (February 24th/25th) with many activities taking place throughout the village of South River.
Dave Gray/CDO Burk’s Falls, Armour, Ryerson
Dave verbally announced his resignation as Chair of AHED by reading an off-record statement. Dave reported that Katrine Winterfest is taking place over the weekend (February 24th/25th). ‘Drag at the Mag’ has been postponed one week due to the poor weather. Dave discussed the event held February 22nd with BACED partnering with the Business Centre, Paro, and the Almaguin Highlands Chamber of Commerce – “Time is Money: Relationship Marketing in a Digital World” – though the event wasn’t widely attended, because there were fewer people there were more opportunities for interaction and engagement, the event was very well received by attendees. The Villages of Almaguin concept is moving ahead with 8 Municipalities passing resolutions to support the initiative. The Almaguin Highlands Chamber of Commerce will be setting up a ‘Regional Task Force’ of sorts to address some of the key recommendations that came out of the BR&E report – more info to come. IION has announced their Youth Entrepreneurship Placement Program which will be running this year as well – youth ages 18 – 29 can be part of the IION – YEPP 16 week paid placement program learning on the job experience from innovative employers in the area and take part in IION’s experiential Training Retreat - anyone seeking more information can contact 705-474-7600 ext. 5661 The BEAM program has re-launched with additional funding from FedNor being announced. The BEAM program can provide up to $5,000 (which represents a 75% cost share), to update/upgrade website or mobile development – for more information about BEAM, please visit www.blueskynet.ca/beam or Muskoka Community Networks.
Jessica Busch, WORC, announces verbally that she is resigning as AHED Secretary.
Henning Golle/Business Centre
Henning spoke about the BEAM program with Muskoka Community Networks and indicated to the group that in the past the funding has been on a first come, first served basis however this year they will be considering other factors – the funding will also be open to start-up businesses as well. The Step Forward Entrepreneurs Program is also open to business owners offering up to $5,000 for sales and marketing, business development or product development. The Business Centre will be reviewing the Entrepreneurship program in March, Henning will facilitate fewer classes per year to allow him more time to reach out to communities and businesses. The Starter Company Program has expanded to include all ages – as a result there have been more clients over the age of 29 accessing the program. There will be an Enterprising Women event held in North Bay on March 9th to honour and celebrate local women.
John Santarossa/EDO CAEDA – no report
Stacie Fiddler/Labour Market Group (Submitted Report)
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