| Jul 03, 2008

Feature Article - July 3, 2008

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Feature Article - July 3, 2008 Community Futures unveils planBy Jeff Green

The Frontenac Community Futures Development Corporation (FCFDC) is three years old, and it has just completed a review of its operations and released a strategic plan to run until 2011.

The review took place in March, and included community sessions, which were followed up by two planning sessions of the volunteer board of the corporation.

Frontenac County was one of the last in the province to have a CFDC established. The corporations are the main means for the Industry Canada to funnel economic development support to rural Ontario.

The Frontenac CFDC has a pool of investment money which it makes available to businesses in the county that are not able to receive financing from traditional institutions, and has been the agency that has delivered the Eastern Ontario Development Program, which funds internships for business and not for profit corporations and provides grant money for specific projects.

In addition to continuing to carry the role that has been set for it by Industry Canada, the Frontenac CFDC has set out “two srategic objectives” for the next three years.

The first, in the words of the report, is “to develop new year round well paid employment opportunities” and the “second overall strategic priority is to improve the visual appeal, range of local services and vitality of our small communities.”

While these objectives are general, the plan is more specific when it talks about developing “one or more signature projects … that are substantive in scale and defining for the CFDC’s public profile.”

One of these is already underway, in the lead role the corporation is playing in bringing broadband internet service to the far reaches of the county.

In the next three years, the corporation intends to “respond to the need to build a four season tourism industry and address product deficits in the Frontenacs”. Among possible ways of achieving this the report cites a couple of examples of possible projects.

“For example: the proposal for a Queen’s Centre of the Humanities on 10 acres near Sharbot Lake or, say, a retreat centre themed on dark skies or ‘soft’ eco-friendly uses of the environment.”

Another area of interest for the CFDC lies in environmental initiatives such local food/public market initiatives and “the emerging proposal for a ‘green campus that could include environmentally friendly business and/or health and social facilities.”

The final category for potential signature projects is the possibility of an agricultural centre in the county. This would be a “multi-purpose agricultural centre that could incorporate facilities for a variety of activities: a fall fair, meeting rooms for rural and agricultural groups, 4-H club events, local food groups, organic farmers, public markets, artist showings, social service and training activities.”Robert Wood of 8020 info, a Kingston-based consulting firm, facilitated the strategic planning process and worked with the FCFDC board to develop the plan.

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