Farmer's Daughter gets help connecting to 200K would-be Capers

The Farmer's Daughter Country Market in Whycocomagh, N.S., offered free land in return for employment at their store last year and were stunned to get 200,000 emails in reply.

Now an economic development agency is going to help them answer the wide-ranging inquiries. 

Many of the questions are about more than employment: people want to know about Cape Breton in general and about starting businesses on the island.

That caught the attention of economic development agency, the Cape Breton Partnership, and they are helping the business process the torrent of messages. 

Boon to island economy and tourism

That's music to Heather Coulombe's ears. She and her sister Sandee MacLean own The Farmer's Daughter

"I think it's amazing, as I've been looking for help. We've had a few friends help, but it's been quite daunting," said Coulombe. 

Coulombe said many of the emails aren't useful for their search for employees, but they could prove beneficial for Cape Breton's economy and tourism. 
    
"We've had people from Ontario, we've had people from South Africia who have businesses that would like to maybe sell their business and start a business here," said Coulombe.

"Some people just wanted to know about coming to visit here because it looks so beautiful in all the pictures that we posted."

Coulombe said they've already forwarded some resumes along to the appropriate places. Staff at the nearby Point Tupper generating station contacted them about qualified millwrights. 

"We were able to send them 11 applications and he came back saying, 'Wow, these are good people,'" Coulombe said. She said they've also heard from doctors and lawyers in Canada and abroad. 

Interns to sift through trove of emails

Keith MacDonald, president of the Cape Breton Partnership, said two interns will tackle the backlog of emails, working with the store's owners to categorize and respond to the many requests. 

"We felt this would be a great experience for them and on top of that help the Farmer's Daughter in their situation," said MacDonald.

He said they hope to bring those would-be immigrants to Cape Breton — especially those keen on starting businesses.

MacDonald said it will take several months to go through the emails and Facebook posts to provide the necessary information for those interested in visiting or moving here.

"Ultimately the goal is to attract new businesses to the region and hopefully we'll have some success."