Jeff Green | Dec 15, 2005
Feature Article - December 15, 2005
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Feature ArticleDecember 15, 2005
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County seeks township's support for economic developmentby Jeff Green
A proposal is making the rounds of Frontenac Townships Councils that would see a more co-operative approach towards economic development in Frontenac County.
Dianna Bratina, the Manager of Economic Development, for the County has proposed that an Advisory Committee set up this year to determine key target areas for development within the County, be maintained for another year, and that each township maintain their representative on that Advisory Committee. Councillor Del Stowe has been representing South Frontenac on the committee, Councillor Janet Gutowski Central Frontenac and Councillor Betty Hunter North Frontenac.
As well, Bratina is asking that the townships endorse a co-operative approach to an Official Planning Process.
Finally, Bratina wrote to each council requesting “that a reserve fund be established to support specific economic development initiatives as recommended to Council by the Manager of Economic Development in consultation with the Advisory Committee.”
Dianna Bratina has been the Economic Development Manage for Frontenac County for one year now, and she has learned that the township councils are wary of any action by the County that looks like it might be an attempt to supersede the townships.
“It’s very clear they [the townships] don’t want a county- wide approach to Economic Development,” she said in an interview with the News last week.
She made it clear that her proposal about taking the first steps towards a County of Frontenac Official Plan are not designed to impinge on the Official Plans that the townships already have in place. On the contrary, she said “if the County has an Official Plan in place, it will make it easier for the townships to amend their own Official Plans. It will alleviate the need for them to seek approval from the provincial government.”
A Frontenac County Official Plan would be a useful document in the drive to promote the County to outside developers, according to Dianna Bratina
In seeking that the townships establish reserve funds for Economic Development, Bratina has been careful to maintain those funds in township hands, so townships are free to decide at a later date which county-driven initiatives they would like to participate in.
A project that is being proposed for the coming year is a Business Retention and Expansion study. It would involve seeking input from business owners throughout the county in a comprehensive survey, using a generic database that has been developed by the provincial government.
The project is projected to cost $35,000, but there are sources of funding already in place to cover most of that cost. The Rural Economic Development Program will cover $17,500; the Community Investment Support Program $14,000; and $3,500 is being sought from the four Frontenac townships and the county. Each township is being asked to contribute $700 towards the project.
This initiative is intent on working with existing businesses to see how growth can come about.
“Even though commercial and industrial growth in the Frontenacs has been relatively slow, what growth there has been has come from local or internal expansion or diversification. Consequently, the local business community would provide a good indication of the latent demands as well as barriers to development.”
To support the proposals, Dianna Bratina has been making the rounds of Council meetings, attending in South Frontenac on December 6 and in Central Frontenac on December 13.
Both Councils accepted the premise of her proposals. South Frontenac Council agreed to appoint Councillor Del Stowe to a County Advisory Committee for an additional year and to taking a co-operative approach with the County as far as planning is concerned. They said they will consider a reserve, but were unclear if they needed to commit more than the $700 Dianna Bratina is requesting for the Business Retention and Expansion study.
Central Frontenac Council agreed with all three proposals, and will consider the size of reserve they would like to establish for economic development during their 2006 budgeting process.