At the June 5th South Dundas council meeting, economic development officer Nicole Sullivan recommended that council adopt the South Dundas Economic Development Strategy Update, dated May 2012, as presented and they did.
The update, completed by Ottawa-based company McSweeney & Associates, was presented to council by Ian Duff. The company was also hired by the United Counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry to complete the SD&G Economic Development Action Plan.
According to Duff, the township should be focusing on the following key areas of opportunity: agriculture, logistics and shipping, small businesses, home-based businesses, and tourism.
“If you’re looking to grow, look at the businesses you have,” said Duff. “Being a rural municipality, there are definitely opportunities for people to stay at home and work at home.”
“You need to grab hold of the opportunities that are here.”
Duff continued to emphasize, throughout his presentation, that it’s “imperative that they (businesses) be kept up to speed on what’s happening.”
“Where a lot of communities drop the ball,” he continued, “retaining and expanding current businesses. Identify those that are excelling. Identify those that are struggling.”
“You don’t just do it once. You need to keep doing it. You need to keep engaging the business community,” said Duff.
The main portion of Duff’s presentation centered around seven key action items McSweeney & Associates felt the township should be focusing on. With each action item, Duff went into detail on the variety of ways to accomplish the task.
The key actions included are:
• Developing a tourism strategy
• Creating and continually updating marketing and investment attraction material
• Developing a more tourist friendly community with customer service training
• Completing an investment readiness assessment
• Developing promotional material
• Community improvement plan – infrastructure
“These are the main priority actions,” said Duff. “There are others, but tackle those first and then go back and pick through. If you do all of these right, it will take you a good five years.”
Deputy-mayor Jim Locke pointed out that “there are a lot of opportunities and challenges ahead of us to follow what we’ve been presented.”
“It certainly sounds logical,” said mayor Steven Byvelds. “I think the priority initiatives you’ve given us to work at certainly are doable.”
“It’s something we’re looking forward to as a council,” he added.
Duff agreed, “economic development should be fun. Communicate and have fun with it. Try to step back and really enjoy the opportunities economic development can bring you.”
“We’re always there to offer support and assistance,” said Duff. “It’s easy to bounce ideas off of us.”
“I’d like to commend your economic development officer,” continued Duff, “she kept us on track.”
“It’s a great community to live and do business,” said Duff, referring to South Dundas. “Start promoting yourself as that and start building momentum behind it.”