Friday, November 21, 2014

RRFDC gives update on its ‘Path Forward’

At a time when Fort Frances needs it most, the Rainy River Future Development Corp. is working with partners to implement a plan to transition the local economy and aim for a prosperous future.
Economic developer Geoff Gillon and consultant Tannis Drysdale spoke to council yesterday to give them an update on projects the RRFDC, on behalf of the Town of Fort Frances and Rainy River District, currently is undertaking, collectively known as “The Path Forward.”

Drysdale said the RRFDC has $1.4 million in approved federal and provincial monies to help Fort Frances and the district move forward on these projects.
“Our plan includes growing the mining supply and services sector,” she noted. “So we’ve been working on growing relationships with various mining companies and service providers.
“In the coming months, we will be hiring a mining procurement specialist to work with local businesses and help them take advantage of the tenders that will be coming out from New Gold as they advance the mining project,” added Drysdale.
“And there’s also the side effects of helping and working in Alberta and all of those resources sectors.”
The plan also includes supporting value-added forestry.
“We will be issuing an RFP [request for proposals] within the next three weeks to hire a professional to begin facilitating a partnered approach to [forest] tenure reform,” said Drysdale.
“That individual, or another individual, will also do an audit of the fibre available in the forest and advise us on what would be marketable,” she explained.
“That would be a year-and-a-half process, if that fibre does become available through an alternative tenure process.”
In terms of strengthening the local retail and commercial sector, not only is the “Go Local” project up and running but the RRFDC also has invested $3.2 million in small independent businesses in Rainy River District.
It also provides almost daily training opportunities for entrepreneurs.
Drysdale said Gillon is working with a consulting firm to explore health care-related services, and RRFDC is marketing residential and industrial properties to developers.
The RRFDC also is in the process of initiating a telecommunications upgrade study, which Drysdale said “probably will result in another upgrade of our telecommunications infrastructure.”
When it comes to building a tourism market, the RRFDC will continue to offer tourist information at the border this summer and work with the Fort Frances Museum to create a new walking tour of Fort Frances.
There also will be a new summer festival under the big tent down at the riverfront while support will continue for all existing festivals and events.
Drysdale said the RRFDC has $190,000 worth of applications into various government ministries.
And within the next six months, it will have a $4.6-million application goal that includes a large study for the local farm community.

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