$100,000 for economic development committee


By Eric Howald

Kincardine council overcame its trepidation Wednesday evening and agreed to fund an economic development corporation to the tune of $100,000.


While council believes an economic development corporation for the municipality is a necessity, many councillors were nervous about forwarding $100,000 to a group of citizens setting up the corporation.


Jim Prenger, spokesman for the group, presented council with a first draft of its business plan, asked for the funding and requested that councillor Ron Coristine be council’s representative on the new corporation.


Councillor Candy Hewitt was first to sound the alarm, saying Prenger wanted $100,000 without council knowing how the corporation was to be set up. A number of other councillors had similar concerns.


Coristine said the municipality needs a separate organization if the town is to move ahead on the economic front. He added the group has already taken the lead on bringing natural gas to the area.


“Someone has to ask them to get up and dance,” he said, adding that the group will also be approaching the business community for funds.


Council should look at the money as an investment, said deputy mayor Anne Eadie.

She doubted the municipality is getting any more than three to five per cent on its investments. With grants available, the new corporation could get the municipality up to 100 per cent on its money.


She added that private money is more likely to follow if the municipality moves ahead and then there will be more grant money.


The group of volunteers has taken on the natural gas project in good faith. The $100,000 investment will pay off in the future for the municipality, said Eadie.


This council, elected last fall, disbanded its committee system, including its economic development committee. It and the members of that committee believe a new, independent private corporation can be much more effective in retaining and bringing new business to the community.


If council doesn’t proceed, it might as well tell the volunteers, former members of the economic development committee, to quit wasting their time, said councillor Mike Leggett. The money could come from the industrial land reserve, he said.


Councillor Ken Craig said he believes success breeds success and supports the idea of the group going out and doing the work for council.


Ward 1 has a $1-million  economic development fund that the money could come from, said CAO John deRosenroll. He added the municipality’s track record is not good and people have to see the municipality has confidence in the group.


Prenger said that he, Allan Ribbink, Robert Cottrill, Guy Anderson and Linda Bowers would be signing the incorporation papers the next day.


After much discussion, it was decided that an ad hoc committee headed by Coristine and comprised of the new corporate members, deputy mayor Anne Eadie and councillors Mike Leggett and Jacqueline Faubert will decide on the set up of the corporation.


The economic development corporation will be a joint public-private sector undertaking that involves key stakeholders in the area, including government, major public and private sector employers and small and medium-sized businesses.