| Jul 12, 2007


Feature Article - March 8, 2007

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Feature Article - July 12, 2007

Business retention and expansion survey yields mixed results

byJeff Green

The Economic Development Department of the County of Frontenac has completed a comprehensive survey of businesses throughout the county.

The business retention and expansion report was presented to a county council meeting in June, and to a joint meeting of the four municipal councils that make up Frontenac County last week.

In general the survey revealed that while many businesses are less than satisfied about some aspects of doing business in the county, there is little doom and gloom about the future.

Seventy percent of the 168 businesses surveyed rate their community as an excellent or good place to do business; 43% will be expanding their establishments in the future, and only 4 of the surveyed businesses were planning to relocate outside of their own municipality in the future.

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Agricultural operations (incl. forestry, fishing and hunting), made up the majority of the businesses surveyed in South Frontenac (38%), whereas Accommodation and Food Services (the category that encompasses most tourism operators), made up 50% of the respondents in North Frontenac. In Central Frontenac, Accommodation and Food Services (21%) and Arts, Entertainment and Recreation (21%) were the most popular categories.

While it has been widely reported that farming has been on the decline in recent years, the survey showed some optimism in the Frontenac County farming community. Forty per cent of those surveyed said their financial situation has improved over the past 3 years, while 22% said it has deteriorated, and 53% expect their financial situation to improve over the next three years while only 8% expect it to deteriorate.

Among the priorities for improvements to local agriculture, access to a local abattoir was most often cited (by 84% of respondents) followed closely by processing/marketing facilities (81%) and drainage (81%).

Perhaps in recognition of the burgeoning residential pressures on some prime farmland in the county which happens to be located within a short drive of the City of Kingston, conflicts with non-farm residents was noted as a priority by 67% of the agricultural operators who answered the survey.

Tourism operations are spread throughout the county, and 45 of the 168 businesses surveyed identified themselves as tourism-related. The bulk of these are located in Central and North Frontenac, but all regions were represented.

While a small majority of the businesses surveyed are open year round (56%), most agreed their business is mostly or entirely based on summer traffic (86%). About half of the businesses said that the seasonal nature of their operations is a barrier to expansion, but on the positive side, 44% of those surveyed said they have plans to expand their operations.

Dianna Bratina, the manager for Economic Development for Frontenac County, directed the survey process. She said that the results “confirmed many things that I have learned about the business climate in the county, and will form the basis for future activities.”

The survey is a tool that was developed by the province, and Bratina said that the results that were released to county councilors last month are based on the parameters set out by the province.

“In the coming months we will be looking at the information from a more specific, county-based perspective,” she said.

A leadership team made up of municipal appointees from the four Frontenac municipalities, and other interested parties, such as Terry Shea from the Land O’Lakes Tourist Association, have begun to work on an action plan based on the results of the survey.

County council will consider the survey results at their August 1st meeting, and Dianna Bratina will be making presentations and seeking feedback from municipal councils and at public meetings in the early fall.

She anticipates formulating an action plan for implementation in 2008.

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