OttawaValleyWood.com wins award
Renfrew County business development officer Craig Kelly and forester Lacey Rose made a presentation to county council last week promoting their brand new website, www.ottawavalleywood.com, a hub for all things forestry and woodworking in the Ottawa Valley.
The County of Renfrew is trying to introduce the forestry industry to the Internet and "The Google Generation," and it has received an award for its efforts.
At the annual conference of the Economic Developers Council of Ontario (EDCO), held from Feb. 5-7 in London, OttawaValleyWood.com earned the county the Ontario Economic Development Award, set up, according to a report filed by the county development and property committee, to recognize "excellence in marketing and product development utilizing technology."
The site was co-developed by county business development officer Craig Kelley and county forester Lacey Rose, and it serves as an online hub for all things wood-related, from lumber products to wooden crafts and furniture.
"The project was undertaken primarily to make it easier, especially for the internet-savvy generation who are exercising their buying power right now, to source local wood products," Rose explained to county council during a recent presentation. "We also wanted to raise awareness in the general public that we do have a large forest-based industry here that can supply everything from lumber to art. A lot of people don't realize we have so many different wood products here."
Built with financial support from the Renfrew County Community Futures Development Corporation, through the Eastern Ontario Development Program, the site features photos and descriptions of a growing number of producers and manufacturers from across the country, with the summaries designed to both introduce their products and services and make the experience of dealing with them for purchases of all kinds a more personal one.
According to Rose, about 40 producers have already been profiled for the OttawaValleyWood.com, with more being added as they are contacted and discovered.
"These 40 producers alone directly employ more than 900 people," reports Rose, "and that's just on the manufacturing side, and that's right now, in this (economic) downturn."
Along with that large number of producers comes a huge variety of products and services.
"There's a surprising diversity of wood products that are grown and manufactured right here in Renfrew County," she told council. "Furniture, doors, lumber of every native species and dimension, flooring, siding, art, jewelry, shingles, stairs, trim (and) roof trusses.
"You literally could build and furnish a 100-mile house," she adds, alluding to the local-food phenomenon where people attempt to only consume food products grown or raised within a 100-mile radius.
In addition to the promotion of wood producers and manufacturers to the general public, the site has also already proven to be a valuable asset for producers to contact each other and develop mutually beneficial partnerships, as Kelley explained.
"Madawaska Doors is increasing their flow of doors coming out of Barry's Bay," he told council. "They've got a fantastic new product and don't have the capacity to grow internally; they want all these doors available, sprayed and finished, delivered to homes. When a call went out, Mike (Snider) of Madawaska Doors contacted Mike (Graham) of Calabogie Rustic Furniture because of the website, and now Mike Graham is building a new 1,200-square-foot addition on his Calabogie business to spray and finish these doors for Madawaska Doors - another direct benefit (of the website). The project is estimated at more than $50,000 for the Calabogie area, and another new job created in the $15-20 per hour range because of this direct relationship, another great success."
The presentation made an immediate impact on county councillors, who were quick with their praise for Rose, Kelley and everyone involved in the site.
"It's really nice to hear those stories," said Killaloe-Hagarty-Richards Mayor Janice Visneskie, "and I'm hoping that it's going to grow. I will be going home and telling people to make sure they take advantage of that website, so congratulations. I'm very, very pleased. I didn't know that was going on, and it's great that you came to tell us. Again, congratulations and keep up the good work for us people who depend on those logging jobs, lumber and anything to do with wood. Thank you very much."
For more information on the site, to see the directory of local wood producers and manufacturers, or to get in touch with either the forestry or economic development departments at the county, visit www.ottawavalleywood.com.
Ryan Paulsen is a Daily Observer multimedia journalist