The Dryden Observer

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FedNor funds to support DDC

Chris Marchand

Chris Marchand served as editor of the Dryden Observer from August 2009 to April 2018.

By Chris Marchand

There’s some relief in the form of federal funding for the city’s beleaguered economic development department.

Back in early December, Kenora MP and Minister for Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario (FedNor) Greg Rickford announced $3.1 million in funds to be distributed between the region’s small municipalities and First Nations to aid those communities in hiring economic development personnel. An additional $3 million will help small and medium sized businesses hire youth interns.

Rickford says that more economic development personnel in smaller communities can make better use of further funding sources from FedNor, or the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC) and better balance the uptake of funds between larger centres and more rural areas.

“As is well documented in Dryden, they haven’t had an economic development officer there for a while, there is just no money there to pay that position,” said Rickford. “This is not something FedNor has done before. Typically there was no program here to help hire an economic development officer. As a result it made it difficult for communities to move their economic priorities into an application to FedNor. It’s a totally flexible program aimed at something I’ve long felt we needed to address — that’s the ability of small towns to identify, articulate and move forward their priorities or projects.”

Rickford adds that groups of communities with common interests may also band together in their economic development efforts.

Dryden has been without an economic development manager since December 2012, despite an attempt to fill the position that was quashed by a council vote in April of 2014.

The City of Dryden’s Nicole Gale, who has been keeping the Dryden Development Corporation (DDC) on life support, says the time is right to move forward.

“A holding pattern has been the way it’s been for about the past 18 months or so,” said Gale. “Resources are stretched and we’ve had to make due with what we can. This funding program will help us move three or four steps forward. The board itself has been in discussions for some time over its desire to hire an economic development manager (EDM). Some of the feedback and conversations they’ve been having with the business community has indicated that this is a desirable outcome for the community as well.”

Gales says the difference between having an EDM versus not having one has a lot to do with identifying and seizing opportunities as opposed to reacting to interest from outside.

“The biggest gap I see right now without having an EDM is in some of the more proactive approaches to economic develpoment,” said Gale. “Dealing with foreign direct investment, business expansion opportunities and being a little more proactive in doing some market studies and identifying good leads.”

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