We only have to look up

Every New Year’s, along with every new birth, affords us the chance to look to the future with hope and optimism.
Certainly, the past few years have been difficult ones in Rainy River District. Almost all of our major industries have taken hits and our three-legged stool is almost lying flat on the ground.
But I believe that today things have bottomed out. We have reached the low point. We only have to look up.
Leading the reasons to be optimistic is plans for a bio-fuel cogeneration plant that has proceeded through the engineering phase at Abitibi-Consolidated and is now in the process of board approval.
That project alone, when announced, will see almost $100 million invested in the Abitibi mill here in Fort Frances and would extend the life of the mill for a long period of time.
Rainy River Resources shares continue to climb, and the company has drilled and developed a substantial gold field in the Blackhawk area. Area prospectors and mining enthusiasts are projecting that should a mine proceed, between 400 and 500 jobs will be created.
East of Fort Frances in the Mine Centre area, MetalCorp will begin de-watering several of the old mines to determine whether or not they can be re-established and flourish with today’s modern metal extracting techniques.
There, too, many jobs will be established should any of those old mines prove their potential.
Mining seems to have a great deal of potential.
Meanwhile, the local beef industry is supporting the development of an abattoir in the district. Since the folding of the Stratton abattoir, beef producers have lacked a killing facility in the area.
That, in turn, has made the processing of animals for district consumption difficult.
The proposal they have in hand for the operation of an abattoir will go a long way to restoring the health of the agriculture community. In the meantime, district producers will have to look to trucking their animals to either Dryden or Thunder Bay for processing.
The tourism industry has taken it upon itself to begin a major marketing program to promote destinations in Northwestern Ontario. Through self-taxing, they hope to reverse the decline in visitors to the region.
Voluntarily, resorts and motels are agreeing to place a marketing destination tax on their rooms. That money—pooled—then will be used to promote this area and resorts throughout the U.S. Midwest.
With these industries taking the initiative to improve their health and create jobs in Rainy River District, optimists also can see the hope for increased activity in the retail economy of the district.
With any major announcement, we can see the hastening of a second major grocery store, the construction of new motels, and the addition of retail in the downtown of our communities.
Should mining become a major focus, a whole new service industry will develop to meet its requirements. It will require new work skills and expertise that currently does not exist here.
And that, in turn, will create additional demands on schools and colleges in the district.
Should any of these prospects happen, it will have significant impacts on the district. If all were to happen, our district would see a boom and growth that it’s never seen before.
2007 promises to be very exciting, indeed.

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