Friday, December 19, 2014

Brand promises renewed spirit: mayor

Mayor Roy Avis is positive that the town’s new brand, Fort Frances Boundless, marks the start of a new era for the community.
“The identity we adopt today is not just a new logo; it is the promise of a renewed spirit in our community,” Mayor Avis said at Monday’s council meeting.

“This is just the beginning of the story, much is yet to come,” he added.
Mayor Avis admitted that recent years have been a struggle for this community.
“We have watched as the pulp and paper industry fell prey to global forces. Those impacts have ripped through the very core of our community. The mill, which once employed 1,700 people, stands idled,” he remarked.
“So, as we search for our future path, we know that we are more than a mill town. We always were. We will find a future filled with boundless opportunity together—if we work together ... if we challenge ourselves to stretch our minds around new possibilities,” noted Mayor Avis.
Fort Frances is a community whose history is that of entrepreneurs building a home from the bounty of the forest.
“Our first people, who wisely used the resources of the reason to build strong communities, were followed by the voyageurs and Métis people who trapped and traded, and then to the lumber mills,” said Mayor Avis.
“Great businessmen like J.A. Mathieu and Backus laid our entrepreneurial foundation. Great visionaries like Noden opened the vast expanses of the region for the use of industry and created a future for the citizens of this community,” he added.
“Today in the spring of 2014, we find ourselves wound back a hundred year, in the time before the paper mill. As we were then, we are faced with the opportunities of a new era—in a globalized world connected by internet, amidst economic transition. To seize on those opportunities, we have integrated our economic development plan with this new identity,” remarked Mayor Avis.
He noted Fort Frances has always been the industrial capital of Northwest Ontario, and now is the time to strengthen that role.
“Fort Frances has the lowest cost power and industrial land in Ontario. We are the regional hub for forestry, mining, agriculture and tourism,” said Mayor Avis. “But we are more.
“Our relationship with the forest and lake is not only commercial—it is why we live here. When nature calls, we answer—inspired by blue lakes, rocky shore and the outdoors,” he added. “We have an opportunity to reconnect visitors to our Great Canadian Experience.”
Mayor Avis pledged the community will flourish amidst a newly revive spirit of entrepreneurialism.
“We are hands on—we make things forged from the land and from determination of spirit,” he said.
“Council working with the economic development office and community have already aggressively begun pursuing strategic investments that will leverage this brand into economic growth,” added Mayor Avis.
The town has prioritized working with area producers and the BIA to create a downtown market square that will open the international border to the retail business zone.
This summer, the town will work with the Chamber of Commerce and Sunset Country Tourism to reopen the tourist information centre on the border.
“And we will be the next hometown to the many new faces that join our community as a result of New Gold’s investment in the west end of the district,” said Mayor Avis.
Coun. Andrew Hallikas also spoke highly of the brand.
“The visual (of the logo) really resonates with me,” he said Monday evening.
"I am a third-generation [Fort Frances resident], and going back to my grandfather and my father, what’s behind [the logo] is what was behind them,” added Coun. Hallikas.
“But I love how it takes us into the future,” he noted. “The logo ‘Boundless’ is exceptional.”

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