November 11, 2004

In the past 5 years, the activities of the Muskoka Community Futures Development Corporation has generated an input of 9 million dollars to the benefit of the Muskoka regional economy.
This unique, non-government, not-for-profit agency, is volunteer-governed with the mandate to strengthen and diversify the District-wide economy.  Action is achieved in many ways involving innovative programs, sound business financing techniques, and the dedicated commitment of many individuals.

Muskoka Community Futures brought the Business Retention & Expansion (BR+E) Program to the region.  In collaboration with the Towns of Huntsville, Bracebridge and Gravenhurst, the organization’s staff coordinate teams of professionals in each town, who donate their time and expertise and who, in turn, work with volunteer visitors, who conduct a confidential survey of local businesses to pinpoint business needs, concerns and development opportunities.  Following a thorough analysis of the generated data, Action Plans are implemented, which already have had positive impacts on the local economy and will influence the District’s orderly growth long into the future.

Muskoka Community Futures loans capital and provides free consultation to assist enterprises going through the transition of expansion, reorganization, or start-up.  Just since 1999, 135 companies in the area have become clients borrowing over $6.3 million, directly affecting the lives of over 850 citizens by creating or retaining their employment.  All loans proceeds are returned back into the agencies' community investment fund, allowing it to grow for the benefit of future local business ventures.

Recognizing that the future well-being of our communities lies with the enthusiastic abilities of our young people, Muskoka Community Futures delivers a range of programs that encourage leadership and the challenge of self-employment as a viable career.  In addition to coaching young entrepreneurs in establishing their own businesses, the organization, along with many local volunteers, provides classroom programs that introduce business concepts, business planning techniques (through the BizPlan Challenge) and encourages high school completion.  This latter endeavour, Junior Achievement’s The Economics of Staying in School (ESIS), has been experienced by all of Muskoka’s Grade 8 students over the past few years.

Through its Muskoka Community Economic Development Initiative (MCEDI), in the last 5 years the organization has granted $140,632 to 45 projects that support the economic health of the District.  This investment, in turn, has helped leverage approximately $714,500 in additional contributions to these local projects.  The MCEDI may contribute up to $5,000 towards non-profit activities that will deliver long-term economic benefits to an applicant's community.

These, and other programs and services, annually contribute hundreds of thousands of dollars to Muskoka’s economy.  This is accomplished by Muskoka Community Futures taking on a tightly-managed, austere approach to its own administrative expenditures.  Sharing space with other community organizations reduces office overheads.  Contract staff is hired through Federal and Provincial job creation initiatives.  While a portion of its operating income is derived through the Federal Economic Development Initiative in Northern Ontario (FedNor), funds to maintain community and business service programs are also generated through several other means.  The organization receives fees for delivering various Provincial and Federal government programs.  Towns and Townships contribute towards community economic development activities.  Many individuals, service clubs, industrial and commercial businesses show their commitment to the future, by helping to cover projects costs of youth programs that benefit the whole region.

While being one of almost 300 Community Futures Development Corporations across Canada, Muskoka Community Futures is locally driven by its volunteer directors, brings in operating funding from outside the region supplemented by local donations, and devotes all its attention to the betterment of the general economic health of the District’s residents.  Thanks to the determination of volunteers and staff, the future for Muskoka has been boosted by $9 million in services and direct cash since 1999.

More information on the services of Muskoka Community Futures is available at or by calling 705-646-9511

Contact:  Christopher Thorpe, 646-9511 x 22