Economic development officer stresses need for incentives

During his quarterly report to council, Geoff Gillon, economic development officer with the Rainy River Future Development Corporation, emphasized the municipality’s need to enhance the appeal of business ventures here.
Gillon highlighted incentives for incoming corporations and repeated concerns over the town’s current telecommunication shortfalls.
“Your role is, as a council, to have incentives, you have to figure out what you can do for a telecommunications company coming to Fort Frances,” noted Gillon before council Monday night.
“My challenge to us, and to you, is to find out what other communities have done,” he added.
Council has set a goal of attracting call-centres to Fort Frances and an idea location on the border and in the middle in the continent.
Although the town has been working on infrastructure improvements, the drive to attract the centres has been marred by ongoing shortfalls in telecommunications.
“Consider assisting in the purchase of telecommunications equipment that is over and above what Bell Canada would provide,” Gillon suggested.
Gillon also suggested buildings be built and leased by the town or tax break incentives offered to attract development here.
“It’s something you have to get in your mind and think about now, rather than when someone comes asking at your doorstep,” he noted.
Council has been pushing to attract more industry to the town as the lumber industry continues to take cut back on employees here.
“Every year, there’s 30 jobs cut at the mill and you people aren’t even noticing it,” said Gillon. “If you talk to [Abitibi-Consolidated general manager] Jim Gartshore he’ll tell you that’s his charter, the numbers have to go down.”
“If we didn’t hear the message you gave tonight, then we weren’t listening,” said Mayor Glenn Witherspoon following the presentation.