June 9, 2004 - GRAVENHURST

Gravenhurst is in the process of forming a leadership team for the Business Retention & Expansion (BR+E) Program.  This popular program has helped many rural Ontario municipalities respond more effectively to their business members’ needs and issues, while, at the same time, bringing the entire community together.  Huntsville and, more recently, Bracebridge have both undertaken BR+E Programs and are currently at different stages of implementation.
“We are optimistic about the success of the BR+E in Gravenhurst,” says Terry Pilger, Chair of Development Services for the Town.  “It has an excellent track record in other Ontario communities.  We believe, when tied in with our existing Strategic Plan, this process will help us to move in a direction that will benefit our community as a whole.”
The BR+E Program is an economic development strategy primarily designed to work with existing local businesses, although resulting changes may also serve to attract new businesses.  In Ontario, it has been found that most of the net job growth comes from expansion within the existing business base.
The program operates under a leadership team comprised of municipal, business and community representatives, who are assisted by staff of the Muskoka Community Futures Development Corporation.  A second team of community-minded volunteers are trained to administer surveys to gather confidential input from the business community.  Survey results highlight relevant issues and, with public consultation, an Action Plan is devised to address those issues.
The leadership team is currently being formed, and volunteers to administer the survey will soon be recruited.  A public information session will be held on Wednesday, June 23, 2004, at 7 p.m. at the Gravenhurst Centennial Centre.  Anyone who wishes to participate in a dynamic and effective process that will help the community is invited to attend.  The meeting will provide an opportunity to learn about:  the program in general; serving on the Leadership Team; becoming a volunteer surveyor; or being interviewed for the study.  Those who can’t make the meeting are invited to contact Ann Curley, Gravenhurst BR+E Interim Chair at 687-4432 for more information.