The Rainy River Future Development Corporation (RRFDC) presented Fort Frances council members the economic development activity report from January 1, 2020 to March 31, 2020.
An invoice of $32,679.80 in services to Fort Frances was approved by council following the presentation.
Tannis Drysdale, consultant at RRFDC, said during the presentation that 2020 has been a year about planning and consultation in terms of economic development.
Drysdale said they had the opportunity this summer to hire a digital agency to boost online marketing.
“I would say probably for the first time ever we were able to really execute a modern marketing plan particularly on the digital side,” Drysdale said.
“We were able to do pin drops basically based on consumer behaviour, targets specific consumers and then go back and target and retarget on multiple different internet-based platforms whether it be Google, Facebook or Instagram to attract and and inform tourists about our area.”
Drysdale said during RRFDC’s attempt to make the best out of the COVID-19 situation, they were mindful to keep everything within the bubble zone of northwestern Ontario.
“We kept all marketing contained to those areas that had extremely low COVID-19 rates and you can see some of the results in the report,” Drysdale said.
Included in the report was Rainy Lake Market, something that Drysdale said has not been like any previous year.
The Rainy Lake Market continued to operate during the summer mainly because it outdoors, allowing for physical distancing and sanitization procedures to take place.
“Thankfully, due to our eager vendors and the support from locals it has been a phenomenally successful summer regardless,” the report said. “The year started off modestly with only three vendors and now we regularly boast 18 vendors, occasionally having to turn vendors away because of spacing requirements.”
Drysdale said despite COVID-19, they worked with the health unit to find a way to open up the market. She added that the concern was based on the possibility that if they lost a vendor this year, they would lose them forever.
“We have a little bit of live entertainment going on,” Drysdale said. “For spacing reasons, we have been turning away vendors, but we have had up to 18 vendors in individual weeks. We look forward to that success carrying on to 2021. Continuing to make the market square free for local small businesses and perhaps even also providing parking space in front of restaurants to create a patio culture in Fort Frances.”
Councillor John McTaggart said it is obvious they need to keep focused on economic development and assisting businesses.
“I see businesses that are open restricted hours and I really think that we need to do everything we possibly can and with the help of RRFDC to really support the businesses in our community and help them through this tough time,” McTaggart said. “I think we haven’t seen the toll of [COVID-19] yet. It is bound to come.”