April 01, 2004 - by Tammy Wilson, The Bancroft Times 

Community Futures Development Corporation of North and Central Hastings and South Algonquin held its Annual General Meeting on March 23, 2004.  The meeting took place at The Carriage House Restaurant in Marmora, where Chair Bruce Walker discussed the success the corporation has had over the past year.
"We have never made more loans or assisted more people seeking self employment than in 2003.  In fact, we, as a Community Development Corporation, have never been busier," said Walker, in his State of the Corporation Message.
CFDC distributed $1,947,899 in loans that created or maintained 134 jobs in the area.  They have also been working with communities in a number of initiatives, including assisting with a Trillium application for the Centre Hastings Skate Park.  CFDC has received a Trillium grant to help establish a youth centre in Bancroft.
The Auditor General of Canada released a review of the Community Futures Program for 2003, and it received a 9.5 average out of a possible 10.
"I believe it's very safe to say that the Community Futures Program is one of the most effective government (programs) ever," says Walker.
CFDC also presents annual achievement awards to clients and small business that have benefited from the program.  In June, Highland Wilderness Tours won the Ontario CFDC Outstanding Entrepreneur Award.  During Small Business Week in October, CFDC presented representative organizations with awards celebrating small business as the "number one employment creator in Ontario".
There were two 2004 Business Achievement Winners announced at the meeting.  One was Kathy Gray, who runs a hair salon in her basement in Cardiff.  Her business is called Colors, Cuts & Curls.  The other recipient of the award was the Bancroft business Byte By Byte.  In July 1997, the CFDC assisted Gary and Thornley 'Lee' Bay with the start-up of their business.  Gary and Lee wanted to provide a better understanding and access to computers.  They have supplied the community with new and used computers, parts, accessories and software.  Byte By Byte is attached to the Driver & Vehicle License office, and maintains office hours from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.  Gary and Lee have been able to hire one full-time employee, as well as one part-time employee.
CFDC have also helped in maintaining and creating web sites for many municipalities and organizations.
CFDC is currently involved in 11 different youth-related programs.  It has trained 12 young leaders in the Youth Leadership Retreat that was held at Joseph's Resort in November.  Youth Reloaded (the leadership group's name) has begun publishing a monthly newsletter that is distributed to schools all over the area, called Youth Star.  The group has also hosted a youth dance, which they are hoping is one of many.
"Unfortunately, most people still aren't aware of all that we do; but, more and more people are beginning to know that, and we can all be proud that this 'Community Futures does a great deal more than just loan money'," said Walker.