Renfrew County is ready for investment
Sean Chase/Daily Observer Manager of economic development and tourism Alistair Baird updates Renfrew County council on the economic development strategy.
With a skilled workforce and business-friendly climate, the County of Renfrew believes it can make a case to companies to choose this region to invest in.
County councillors received an update on the economic development strategy which will guide the upper tier in how they market, promote and attract business until the year 2023. Manager of economic development and tourism Alistair Baird said that although the county often has to compete with Ottawa when it comes to attracting large companies, investors on the whole see a lot of positive attributes to Renfrew County.
“We are really a special, spectacular, unusual place and we have a lot going on,” said Baird.
Those selling points include affordable commerical land, high speed Internet, business-friendly municipal officials and leaders, a close proximity to major urban markets and an unparalleled quality of life. Over the next few years, the county will focus on six economic development priorities including business retention and expansion, County-wide broadband and cell coverage, create a work-to-live environment, push industry diversity to increase skilled jobs, promote tourism investment and development and make improvements to transportation infrastructure.
“People have flexibility now,” he added. “If you want to keep people here they have to have work they enjoy and find challenging and make a good living but they want an environment where they would like to live. The key thing they always want is an investment they can make or a job they can go to.”
The strategy is held up by several pillars that also makes the county attractive including advanced manufacturing, nuclear science research and development, forestry, agriculture and tourism investment. Some pillars, such as agriculture, have been the victims of changing generational and global trends. The number of farms in the county have declined from 1,505 in 1991 to 1,029 in 2016. However, Baird said many have consolidated operations and continue to produce at an accelerated rate. Although the Canada–U.S. softwood lumber dispute has grabbed headlines, the county's forestry sector remains a major economic player, Baird added.
The county continues to be promoted at trade shows that have a global reach and Baird noted that his department maintains a robust collaboration effort at the federal and provincial levels and through the Ottawa Valley Economic Development Partners Group.
Baird credited business development officer David Wybou for drafting the strategy which is considered a living document.
“It will updated and amended as we learn new things and developments occur,” he said.