Downtown core priority for Chamber

The Downtown Core Committee report unveiled last month should figure prominently as a local initiative in 2006, and the Fort Frances Chamber of Commerce wants to continue being involved in shaping the future of the business community here.
“We’ll continue on, as a Chamber, some of the things we’ve been doing in 2005, continuing to be the voice of business and speak up for issues that could impact local businesses—specifically, things like the Downtown Core Committee,” president Gary Rogozinski said last Thursday.
“There’s a lot of good things in the report, a lot of good projects that need to be completed for the downtown to survive,” he added. “We can’t let that report disappear—go into the file cabinets with all the other reports that been done in the past.
“There’s some good ideas. We have to start working on them,” he stressed. “I think the town council and the mayor support them, and it’s up to the Chamber to assist and make sure that we move forward.”
Rogozinski, who sat on the Downtown Core Committee, said he even has a timeline for some of the initiatives in the report to be addressed in 2006 if possible.
For instance, one aspect of the report that’s needed to be addressed since the new Canada Customs building was built is the location of the Ontario tourism centre.
“We want to finalize what we want to do to relocate the tourist information centre,” said Rogozinski. “That’s a big issue for the whole district and Northwestern Ontario.
“Where it is now, it’s useless,” he argued.
“If we could do that, and at the same time begin the re-design of Fort Frances, so that the tourists, when they come through, will be more inclined to stay here, and start branding the downtown and expanding the BIA to a core area, that would be a great start,” he remarked.
Rogozinski said he’ll also take a close look at the proposed business licensing bylaw town council read for the first time at its Dec. 19 meeting, and see what potential it may have on area businesses.
“I haven’t gone through the report in detail yet,” he noted. “But there’s some concerns out there, and I want to make sure I understand it all, and then make sure the businesses have a voice regarding that bylaw.”
Rogozinski said the Chamber also will strive to continue working with local, provincial, and federal levels of government to look out for the best interest of business in the community, as well as with groups like the Northwestern Ontario Associated Chambers of Commerce and the Northwestern Ontario Tourism Association.
“That’s the key thing we’re going to do,” he stressed. “And get more businesses on board, joining the Chamber and working with the Chamber on issues.
“You get out of the Chamber what you put into it, and the more businesses involved, the more effective you can be as a Chamber.”
The Chamber also will keep up marketing Fort Frances in 2006, said Rogozinski, adding the Chamber addressed 3,000 requests from tourists for information about the area this past year.
The year ahead also will see the resumption of “Business After Hours” mix ’n mingles and quarterly luncheons with guest speakers.
As well, the annual events the community has come to expect from the local Chamber of Commerce will take place once again this year.
The trade show, for instance, is planned for April, “Quest for the Best” tentatively slated for July, and the 11th-annual business awards banquet will be held in October.
Rogozinski had said last January that the goal for the Chamber was to heighten its profile—something he feels was achieved in the past 12 months.
“We took a step forward,” he remarked. “I think businesses know who we are, and what we do. And now it’s a matter of continuing down that road in 2006.”