By Pauline Kerr
The year 2013 holds much economic promise for this entire area.
The past year has seen the creation of the Blyth Business Improvement Area. The aim had been, in part, to help overcome the negative impact of the closing of the Blyth school. By year’s end, the Blyth business community was optimistic and thriving, thanks to the BIA, along with the municipality’s partnership with the Threshers, formalized in a new agreement; the entry of a new level of education – post-secondary, thanks to a partnership between the Emergency Services Training Centre and Conestoga College; and the Blyth Festival Theatre’s continued striving for excellence in Canadian arts.
The past year also saw the creation of a new business association in Howick, and the launch of an effort to “brand” that municipality, and literally put the township on the map. With the nucleus of an executive in place for the new business group, plans are already underway to implement some of the recommendations made in the Business Retention and Expansion report.
Wingham is also planning to capitalize on the move towards economic success in the area with the creation of a new BIA. If everything goes according to plan, the BIA will be a fact by the end of January.
Wingham has been without a formal business association for some time, and the need for one was clearly identified in surveys. But it took the Josephine St. reconstruction project to create a determination among local business owners and operators to work together for survival during the “big dig.”
A group of local business people began meeting each week during construction, and kept meeting even after the completion of the project. Working together proved effective – business actually increased during construction. Besides, ideas were beginning to gel about future projects that would benefit the entire downtown. The Wingham business group became a formal entity, with an executive. The next logical step was a BIA. The time was right, the leadership was present and the need was obvious.
A Morris-Turnberry business, Britespan, was honoured by the Huron Manufacturers Association as Manufacturer of the Year, and another local business officially began operation – Pioneer.
There was even optimism about Wescast, when it appeared the sale of the company to a Chinese company would go through.
However, the worldwide economic downturn of the past couple of years has taken a toll. The use of local food banks has been steadily increasing. At the same time, the response to that need has also been steadily increasing.
The North Huron Community Food Share has a new online presence and a much higher profile in the community than ever before.