A local economic development group is looking for more municipal funding.
That's why Sharon Vegh, economic development director of Economic Development Corporation of North Simcoe (EDCNS) and colleague Melissa Elsdon, have been making the rounds to present their funding request to councils in the area. They were giving councils details of the work EDCNS did in 2020 to back up their ask of $87,000 of Tiny Township of $67,000 of Tay Township.
She is set to make presentations to the Towns of Penetanguishene and Midland in the coming days, but Vegh would not reveal the amount EDCNS planned on asking of those municipalities.
However, Randy Fee, communications & marketing coordinator for Midland, shared via email that the town has paid $150,266 in 2019 and $168.814 in 2020. As well, Carrie Robillard, director of finance and treasurer for Penetang, wrote in to say that the town gave EDCNS $81,665 in 2020, up from $79,130 in 2019.
Vegh says investments will be even more crucial as North Simcoe begins to recover from the pandemic next year.
"North Simcoe experienced positive job growth since 2014 when EDCNS began," Vegh told Tiny council recently. "We are in a global negative economic health situation, many North Simcoe employers remain actively seeking staff for growth. We embraced and drove powerful positive change to transform to support business recovery. We're not back to rebuild with phase two of COVID-19 upon us."
Elsdon said EDCNS adapted to the times by focusing on promoting local tourism.
"We worked with Simcoe County, North Simcoe Community Futures and the Midland BIA and with that we delivered over 22,000 discovery guides to residents and business across North Simcoe," she said. "It came at a time when locals may have needed a reminder about our local tourism options. This year, we received a grant from from the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario for $24,000. We will continue to grow the Heart of Georgian Bay brand through our social media."
Through recent focus groups and surveys, Vegh said the EDCNS has now outlined four key strategic goals moving forward.
The goals will focus on promoting the labour force and local spending, providing and creating tools and resources for expansion of existing business, encouraging investment to increase value in staying local and promoting tourism in North Simcoe.
"Tourism will focus on executing those goals laid out in the plan with emphasis on supporting our tourism operators and running marketing projects that are going to highlight the assets of the heart of Georgian Bay," said Elsdon.
Tiny council seemed satisfied with the effects of their activities in the area.
"The board and staff of EDCNS moved extremely quickly when the pandemic hit and changed their operations and continued to go outside what they nornally do to support the local businesses," said Coun. Cindy Hastings. "They took advantage of the pandemic to do their strategic plan so we know where to focus on going forward."
Staff confirmed the request has been added to the municipal budget for 2021 for council to review.
Over in Tay Township, where the Elsdon and Vegh duo presented during a recent committee meeting, Coun. Jeff Bumstead had questions around how Tay's farming community could be included in the Farm Crawl 2020 marketing campaign that featured a majority of Tiny's farms.
"We don't have a downtown and main street in any of our villages," he said. "They rely on smaller businesses throughout, so just curious if there are plans moving forward to include Tay in some sort of video tour."
Vegh said there was one Tay farm included in the Tiny Farm Crawl 2020 video, but that EDCNS would be happy to work on a more Tay-specific campaign.
Tay staff have added the request for funding has been added to the budget for discussion at the Nov. 26 meeting.
Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com