| Mar 13, 2008

Feature Article - March 13, 2008

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Feature Article - March 13, 2008 Dusting Off the Frontenac centre.By Jeff Green

It was 6 years ago that the Frontenac Centre Project was first proposed.

The proposal came about in response to a provincial tourism report which said that the Land O’Lakes region would benefit greatly if there were a signature “high end” resort located somewhere in the region.

A resort development project in Addington highlands was developed in response to this initiative.

In Frontenac County, the Frontenac Centre initiative was developed. The project had a wilderness component as well as an arts and culture component.

The Councils of the day in Central and North Frontenac pursued the project for a time, and even put in some matching funding to obtain a couple of provincial grants, but the project never got off the ground.

In a report to County Council regarding the history of the proposal, Frontenac County Manager for Economic Development Dianna Bratina summed up it up in the folowing way; “Lack of cerdibility combined with a number of challenges, ranging from no site to no local champions,were also identified as barriers to be overcome. Consequently, the project was tabled for another day.”

It has now resurfaced, but more as a sample project than anything else.

Last Friday, Councilor Bob Olmstead and Recreatoin Coordinator Corey Klatt from North Frontenac Township, Janet Gutowski from Central Frntenac Township, Georgia Ferrel from the Land O’Lakes Artisans Guild, and Ann Pritchard from the Frontenac Commuity Futgures Development Corporation, attended a pilot workshop put on by the tourist sector ofthe Ontario East Econoimic Development Corporation (OEECD). They brought the Frontenac Centre as their project.

Other participating regions at the workshop, which was free, were Renfrew-Madawaska, Kawartha Lakes, Prescott, Madoc, and Perth.

“What we were doing was trying to see how projects at various stages of development can be taken through a workshop.,” said Dianna Bratina, who was doing double duty on the day, working for Frontenac County and as the chair of the tourism sector of the OEECD.

“It wasn’t exactly the smoothest flowing workshop,” Bratina said “but we did have a great mix of projects to consider. We will use the experience to fine tune workshops that we will be holding in the spring and in the fall.”

The workshop did demonstrate, however, that the Frontenac Centre Projectneeds quite a bot of work before it can be considered an investor ready initiative.

“People often think of developers as high risk entrepreneurs, but in fact they are risk averse. As municipalities or community champions for projects we have to celar the path, and put together something that is possible for them. They need to know that there is profit in a venture.”

Bratina is preparing a report for Central and North Frontenac on how the Frontenac Centre project could be ressurrected.

“We would have to re-table the project, re-define what it is, and develop all the key elements,” Bratina said.

It is it the interest of cmmuity groups, townships, and counties, to bring tourism and cutural based captial projects to a state of investment readiness so that when there are dollars available from senior levels

of government or venure capitalists the projects can be brought forward.

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