Bruce Caldwell, a local airplane enthusiast and member of the town’s Economic Development Advisory committee, learned a lot about expanding business here after returning from a convention in Orlando, Fla. earlier this month.
“I think I would have handled it differently if I were to go again,” Caldwell noted Friday. “It was kind of overwhelming at the time.”
The three-day National Business Aviation Association convention was held Sept. 10-12 in a 1.1-million sq. ft. building, featuring more than 560 exhibitors such as fuel companies and aeronautics firms from across North America.
Actual helicopters and planes also were inside the convention area.
“I was there looking for business for the Fort Frances Airport. I don’t know whether I found the mark or not. It was a big, big event,” Caldwell admitted.
“We want them to come to Fort Frances for business and tourism. There’s the difference in dollars, tax handouts,” he added.
Caldwell also was trying to attract investors to develop an aircraft maintenance centre here, which would create jobs and attract more private usage.
This involved talking to many people, as well as handing out information promoting Fort Frances and the area.
“There’s people from some places not so far south, like Chicago, I talked to. But usually, I had to point out some place like Minneapolis and say we’re 300 miles this way,” Caldwell said.
“A lot of people didn’t even know Fort Frances and the area existed. It was funny, but it was kind of sad, too,” he added. “We might not ever know if promoting the area worked.”
In related news, Caldwell wanted to remind people that everyone is welcome to attend the third-annual fly-in, drive-in barbecue that is slated this Saturday (Sept. 28) from 8 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Fort Frances Airport.
The event is designed to showcase the local airport by having private pilots fly in here for the day.
Caldwell once again is expecting fliers from as far away as Thunder Bay and Winnipeg, as well as elsewhere in this region.
The popular event, which attracted more than 300 people to the airport last year, also has more in store for the pilots and public than just flying talk.
Classic cars will be there, but Caldwell still is interested in getting more motorcyclists to show up. For more info, call him at 274-3070.
As well, the local remote control airplane club will be on hand—and a pilot may be lined up to take people for rides, Caldwell noted.
A pancake breakfast will run from 8-11 a.m. while the barbecue is slated for 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Each one costs $3 to attend.