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Feature Article - October 13, 2005

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Feature Article

October 13, 2005

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Vision Awards celebrate small business in Land O' Lakes

by Jeff Green

It may not have been Oscar Night in the Land O’ Lakes but there was a buzz of excitement at Camden Braes Country Club last week as about 90 people waited to hear which businesses would win the first ever Vision Awards.

The awards themselves were large carved plaques, made by Rodger MacMunn, and they were presented to businesses from the seven townships that are a part of the Land O’ Lakes Tourist area. One business among the seven received larger plaque, acknowledging them as the overall Vision Award winner.

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The awards came about because the Land O’ Lakes Tourist Association (LOLTA) wanted to find a way to celebrate corporations, within the for profit and not for profit sectors, that have shown ability to innovate and expand in the past few years.

The evening included a dinner and speeches from MPP Leona Dombrowsky and Rob Wood.

Leona Dombrowsky spoke from the perspective, not only of a local MPP, but of the Minister for Agriculture and Rural Affairs as well. In one part of her speech she talked about how she had first encountered the Land O’Lakes as a child in Tweed.

“The used to be a restaurant in Tweed called the Gateway,” she recalled. “When it first opened it was called the Gateway to the Land O’Lakes. I remember asking my father ‘what are the Land O’Lakes?’ ‘That’s God’s country’, he told me.”

Minister Dombrowsky also made reference to the funding programmes and other initiatives that are in place through her Ministry and the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing for rural economic development.

Rob Wood has had a successful business career and now runs 8020 Info in Kingston. He talked about some of the information he has gathered over the years about tourist related businesses and tourist regions, and how Land O’Lakes-based tourism operators need to be able to find niche markets.

For example, he noted how a friend of his in Kingston was entertaining a visitor from overseas. “The visitor had always wanted to see the Canadian Shield, so I sent them to Parham. All of us know of Parham as a good community, and a hard place to farm, but for these people it was an exotic location.”

The main event of the evening followed as the award winners were announced. The winners from Frontenac County included Desert Lake Resort Bill and Marnie Pederson from South Frontenac; The Land O’ Lakes Communications Network from Central Frontenac; North of 7 Restaurant and Freshmart from North Frontenac; and Custom Cover ups and Murry’s Music from Addington Highlands. Theo and Penny and Nieburg of Napanee, who have undertaken the development of an outdoor mall on Palace Road, were the grand prizewinners.

Land O’Lakes Tourist Association Manager Terry Shea, who organised the awards and the ceremony, was happy with the way the event unfolded, and LOLTA is planning to hold them again in two years time.

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