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New year should be a good one for Prince Edward County

Predictions for 2016 were made at Rotary Tuesday, by Craig Desjardins, (left), Caroline Granger and Larry Ritchie, right, shown here with Rotary President Rob Leek.

Predictions for 2016 were made at Rotary Tuesday, by Craig Desjardins, (left), Caroline Granger and Larry Ritchie, right, shown here with Rotary President Rob Leek.

Predictions are that the new year should be a good one in Prince Edward County.

The Rotary Club of Picton welcomed three prognoticators to Tuesday’s meeting to speculate on the County’s prospects for 2016.

Short presentations were made by Craig Desjardins, executive director of the Prince Edward Lennox & Addington Community Futures Development Corporation, Caroline Granger, vineyard owner and winemaker and Larry Ritchie, director with the Chamber of Tourism and Commerce.

“The glass is half full,” said Desjardins. “But we face many challenges.”

Desjardins, who holds a Bachelors degree in Economics from the University of Western Ontario and a MBA from Queen’s University, explained how the price of oil will continue to drive economic futures for the next year. He also noted the high American dollar continues to impact purchases and at 38 per cent, impedes investments – both internal and direct foreign.

“The good side to the low Canadian dollar is a possible increase in US tourism here and the hopeful belief that our manufacturing sector will drive employment and growth, but I’m not terribly optimistic about that.”

He also touched on how economic problems in China result in dire consequences for Canadian economies. Terrorism, not so much for its danger, but its uncertainty, he said also tends to cause investors to keep their money in their wallets.

He is hopeful to hear good news from a new federal government focused on growth, prosperity and infrastructure investment. He he challenge will be in how it distributes funding to almost 3,700 municipalities in the nation who are all facing monumental tasks in rebuilding decaying infrastructure.

“Demand for infrastructure funding will outstrip supply, so much-needed projects may not get done,” he said.

For Prince Edward County, he predicts relatively stagnant growth. Both the County and the PELA CFDC will be working on overcoming issues of inflation, aging population, migration of youth and seek to change government’s balance of power focus from urban to rural needs. However, he noted that in the coming year it will continue to be difficult to attract business investment to the region.

Caroline Granger said the glass is more than half full, in regard to the business of agriculture and specifically vineyards, but “I’m afraid about spilling it before we get to drink it”.

Granger said the focus of 2016 should be to support and nurture what has been started in the County.

“Our challenge is not missing the potential of opportunity here,” she said. “This small place has unique opportunity to grow and flourish.”

Noting weather doesn’t tend to listen to magazines, if the almanac is correct, she believes her industry could be on the edge of a banner year in 2016.

“We always like to think the year will be better than the one before, but my strongest thoughts forecasting big plans is that change is still coming. I have not seen retail growth like last year since 2004.”

The Chamber’s Larry Ritchie agrees, reporting upward growth in the accommodation industry in the County – but it wasn’t enough for John Travolta.

Part of the Chamber’s role, he noted, was to field questions and lead people in the right direction.

“We had a call from a film company wanting to make a movie at Camp Picton. It was John Travolta and it was going to be an ad for a watch. There were 300 people and a crew and they had no place to stay. Had to turn it down. I’m a promoter of events. It’s a big issue – where to stay.”

However, Ritchie said reports to the Chamber were that real estate and accommodations providers had a great year with few vacancies in 2015 as the County continues to be a greater centre of influence in the province as a destination.

“What we need are more overnight accommodations – not just two-three day minimums. The Royal Hotel adding 18 rooms is great but not enough. I don’t think that’s going to do it.”

He also recommended addressing attitudes to needs of an aging population, making the County more attractive and addressing fixed incomes.

He also expressed high hopes for success with the new Harbour Committee to take advantage of desires to increase use of enjoyment of the waters surrounding the County and take advantage of the County’s history.

We can smell, taste and breath opportunity here, said Ritchie. “Glass half full? Sure it is. We are a real diamond in the rough and our opportunity is to capitalize on this… with a more like-minded community, more consumer service and positive attitude. It would involve getting together. We have lots of sparks. We have to get all the sparks together and we could ignite a fire.”

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  1. Jonny R. says:

    Only if they feel the need to call the press and get out the 4′ cardboard cheque ! Or they can just mail the donation and avoid the press.

  2. Borys Holowacz says:

    I guess that means that business can avoid donating to any cause where the community is divided.

  3. washburn says:

    The Business Community rarely takes a position on any thing.
    Because they can’t without hurting themselves. As soon as you take a position on anything you have alienated whatever % of customers who disagree with you. That’s why you rarely see political signs posted at places of Business as well !
    Not a great idea to send letters to the editor either ! For the same reasons.
    Real name and address withheld…

  4. Susan says:

    Are roads more important than shelter? Yes they are important but you need a roof over your head before you need a road. The tourists might have to put up with a few bumps while we look after our own!

  5. Chuck says:

    The business community will not step up and take a position on the Wind Factories. Not if there is a chance of making a buck off it. Follow the $$ trail. The almighty $.

  6. Borys Holowacz says:

    It would be encouraging to see business step up to the plate and state their views regarding industrial wind turbine development along the County’s South Shore.
    Seems businesses do not wish to commit either way thinking that is the best way to keep all their customers happy.
    As a customer I am not happy when our entrepreneurs ride the fence.

  7. judy kennedy says:

    Fix the streets and roads!

  8. Mark says:

    Gary Mooney makes a striking point and so does Chuck. Business seems totally oblivious to what is happening in the County and how people trying to make ends meet are affected. Imagine a concern about housing for tourists but no mention of affordable housing for the people in need that live here. Imagine a business community that does not have 36 Industrial Wind Turbines and there affect on the radar. Perhaps Rotary could provide some sensitivity training at their next luncheon for everyone with a thumbs up!

  9. Bayside farmer says:

    It is only a few people who don’t want turbines Gary.It will be good for the businesses as workers will be spending moneyand when they are finished people will be coming to look at them and spend money also

  10. Marnie says:

    Wine makes everything seem rosier.

  11. Gary says:

    You know when you have a nice job and are having a nice lunch with a glass of wine, somehow the real world can just pass you by.

  12. Gary Mooney says:

    So, the business community has no worries about the distinct possibility that two wind projects totalling 36 turbines may be built here in 2016?

  13. Chuck says:

    Lot’s of talk about tourists and accommodations for them. Little for the natives trying to make ends meet and pay service charges and out of control water fees. Nothing about affordable housing for youth, young families or seniors. We have a lot of folks in need that do not give a tinkers damn about a tourist based focus.

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