Economic development going regional

The Rainy River Future Development Corp. will be lobbying area municipal leaders to give the nod to a $7 per capita fee for economic development during the Rainy River District Municipal Association’s annual meeting here Saturday.
If so, the federal government will match municipal dollars up to $100,000.
Rainy River, Emo, Chapple and La Vallee already have jumped on board, with Fort Frances council agreeing unanimously Monday night to also pay a $60,000 flat rate for economic development rather than the fee-for-service arrangement it had with the RRFDC since 1995.
That will save the town $40,000 from its proposed 1998 economic development budget.
In a presentation to council, RRFDC community investment manager Geoff Gillon, who also is the town’s economic development advisor, urged the town to take this route.
He hoped regional development would foster community partnerships rather than pit one community against the other.
“We see this as just a new way of funding economic development,” Gillon noted. “The more positives we bring to the region, the better it is for all of us.”
“Obviously whatever is good for the community is good for the district,” echoed Bill Gushulak, chairman of the town’s economic development committee.
For 1998, Ottawa will match up to $100,000 of the money contributed by the district’s municipalities (meaning a $200,000 total), as well as continue its $200,000 funding for the RRFDC’s operations and put $50,000 toward a satellite office in Emo.
That spells $450,000 for economic development in the district, Mayor Glenn Witherspoon noted.
While the town will give up control over each project, the RRFDC stressed it still would work closely with the EDC and council for direction.
“The industrial park is definitely something that we have to do for Fort Frances,” Gillon noted. “The big thing is to make sure the Town of Fort Frances gets served.
“And I’m quite confident it will.”
If council had wanted to stay with the fee-for-service, it would not have been able to continue its contract with the RRFDC. Chairman Dick Lyons felt it might be perceived as a conflict.
“I think the board would frown on it,” he remarked.
In other news, the RRDMA also will hear presentations Saturday from:
othe area services board working group;
othe Northwestern Health Unit and Rainycrest Home for the Aged;
othe Northwest Ontario Recycle Association and Rainy River Valley Safety Coalition;
oMPPs Howard Hampton (NDP) and Frank Miclash (Lib.); and
ovarious ministries, including Municipal Affairs and Housing, Northern Development and Mines, and Community and Social Services.