CORNWALL, Ontario – The United Counties of SD&G, in partnership with the Community Futures Development Corporation (CFDC) of Cornwall and the Counties and the Cornwall Business Enterprise Centre (CBEC) held a virtual townhall on Wednesday, April 28 with Stormont, Dundas, South Glengarry MPP Jim McDonell and Ontario Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries Lisa MacLeod as guest panelists.
The event was hosted by the United Counties Economic Development Officer Tara Kirkpatrick and focused on supports for small businesses and entrepreneurs, particularly in the tourism sector.
“We recognize the difficult situation that our businesses are in right now as they navigate the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown measures enacted to protect the health of our population. We hope that this forum will help clarify some of the programs and supports available to our businesses and to highlight the different agencies available to help them,” said Kirkpatrick.
The townhall allowed both CBEC and the CFDC to highlight services that they provide to support small businesses including CBEC’s Starter Company Plus Program, and the CFDC’s Regional Relief and Recovery Fund.
Minister MacLeod also took questions from the audience and provided some insight to future steps the provincial government would take to support small businesses in the tourism sector.
Of particular note, MacLeod acknowledged that travel agencies had been hit hard by the pandemic, and stated that a provincial tourism taskforce would be looking at creating provincial travel itineraries to showcase the “authentic Ontario experience.”
“This summer is going to be the summer of stay-cation, very local,” MacLeod said. “It is going to take five to six years before we get international travel back to the way it was.”
She encouraged travel and tourism agencies to look close to home and promote local.
“Look at what’s in your own backyard that you haven’t paid attention to,” said MacLeod. “We’ve forgotten to look at what’s an hour away.”
Ultimately, MacLeod stated that this presented an opportunity for regional tourism remained optimistic for the future of tourism in the province.
“I don’t think I could have gotten through the past 14 months if I didn’t have the opportunity to be bigger and better,” she said.