Prince Edward County businesses will benefit from a number of initiatives the municipality is undertaking to solve issues related to retention and expansion says Mayor Robert Quaiff.
The mayor made the remarks at the Prince Edward Chamber’s breakfast at the Waring House in Hallowell Ward on Thursday morning. About 60 members of the business community took in the breakfast with Mayor Quaiff and Bay of Quinte MP Neil Ellis. Businesses ranged from agriculture and law to development and arts and culture.
As Quinte News reported earlier in an interview, Ellis told reporters three funding announcements are coming to the riding ‘within weeks’ with one headed to the County in February.
No dollar amount was assigned however Mayor Quaiff says it’s related to infrastructure, just not roads and wastewater.
During his presentation, Ellis said federally the country’s infrastructure isn’t in good shape. “It’s like a perfect storm,” he said.
He said investments in infrastructure are important for all levels of government as it helps the business help the business community. He pointed to $2 billion in funding announcements for rural infrastructure and Internet service.
During his remarks, Mayor Quaiff pointed to the efforts taken to address concerns within the business retention study conducted by the Community Development and Economic Commission earlier this year. It surveyed 60 County business owners in the construction and manufacturing sectors. This also includes the agri-food and wineries. In the study, 80% of employers said their industry is growing in the County, 30% higher than the provincial average. However 88% admitted they are having difficulty hiring. Some employers were quoted as saying there needs to be a strategy implemented to get more people with skilled trades. Others said there needs to be more done to attract young working families to the County. Seventy percent said the quality of the workplace is poor and 55% indicated they were experiencing barriers to receiving the necessary training – double the provincial average.
In an interview, Quaiff beamed how 2017 will be a record year when it comes to development and new housing starts with results expected to show in the first quarter.
2016 was a very productive year which saw 125 more building permits issued than in 2015. A total construction value exceeding $83 million, an increase of $6.3 million from 2015.
He said that coupled with the fact a request for proposal is underway at the former Wellington arena site for affordable housing, issues surrounding keeping seasonal employees and attracting new residents will be eased.
He also touched on how the new development framework committee will be bringing forward their recommendations to council that he is sure will also add to more affordable housing options.
He said there are a number of workshop and job fair opportunities underway as well and when it comes to tourism there are a number of promotions underway that he says all business will see the benefits from in the long run. The annual job fair is February 22 at the Prince Edward Community Centre. Also a “hallway takeover” in partnership with Loyalist College will be happening soon to showcase jobs to students.
He said they will be running a tourism ambassador training program that will teach employers and employees skills on how to be an ambassador in tourism, hospitality and customer service. The mayor explained there are also winter survival workshops businesses can take advantage of to assist with ‘surviving in today’s economic climate’.
The mayor encouraged businesses to visit the County’s new tourism website http://buildanewlife.ca/ for more information on municipal plans, studies and workshops.