GRAVENHURST - A funding request to FedNor that will help Gravenhurst draw on its best has received support from council.
During its June 19 meeting, council endorsed staff drafting up a second phase application to the federal agency to create a Community Asset-Based Economic Development Strategy. The document would essentially create an economic development strategy based on an inventory of town area assets, private businesses and the brainpower behind them.
CAO Frank Miele explained if the funding application is successful, FedNor would provide up to 90 per cent of the project’s anticipated $35,000 to $45,000 cost. The town would be responsible for the remainder.
Miele added a request for proposals would have to be created for consultant assistance before the exact total project cost would be determined. He said a great deal of preliminary work for the strategy, as well as data and inventory collection, has already been completed. Once underway, the project would take about six months.
The greatest benefit to the strategy, he said, is that it builds on what Gravenhurst has and its successes, while also helping better identify the threats or stumbling blocks to economic success.
“The old model for economic development was to spend a great amount of time and money out trying to attract business to your region and the end result was you may not be successful,” he said. “And when you came home, you found four local longtime businesses closed because they couldn’t get support.”
Miele said that research shows some 80 per cent of new employment in a town comes from existing business and local citizens.
“So the new model is to draw on what you’ve got right there in your own backyard,” he added. “I’m excited by the new approach and engaging the community; we have so much talent here to draw from.”
He said the strategy will determine ways to build on existing enterprises or find ways to bolster and fill gaps. He said if the application is successful, the next step would be to create some working groups or workshops with the public and the local business and industrial community.
Meanwhile, Miele said the town is also moving on to a second phase for up to $100,000 to design a new town web portal from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, with an answer due shortly.