by Deron Johnston
In a recent interview given by the Mayor of North Grenville in the Kemptville Advance, he chatted about the coming year and the big things in store for 2018. These big things included; the imminent announcement of the purchase of the former Kemptville College, the ground-breaking for the new Comfort Inn & Suites Hotel and something else that the mayor alluded to that was going to forcibly remove all of our collective socks.
These are all wonderful things full of great potential and I’m sure that you join me in welcoming them coming to fruition. It’s important though that we stay focused on our existing businesses and organizations to make sure that they get at least the same level of support and attention that these new “shiny things” will enjoy. It’s easy to get distracted by the things that are shiny and new, all the while forgetting about what brought us to where we are today.
Some of you are probably aware of the challenges that Peter Vichos and his honey business faced over the past year with the Municipality of North Grenville, which were reported in the North Grenville Times. Though the situation has improved partly through the efforts of two members of council, the discussions are ongoing between the two parties. Since the Vichos Honey story broke, the North Grenville Times has been approached about other local businesses facing their own unique challenges in their dealings with the municipality.
The December opening of the new Starbucks Coffee was big news in the community, but people were concerned about the negative impacts on our existing businesses like local favourites Geronimo Coffee and Brewed Awakenings. Through recent conversations with the owners of both places, they seem to be holding their own and have had no significant negative impact to their sales. One of the key factors highlighted for this resiliency was the loyalty of their customers and a strong desire on the part of North Grenville residents to “shop local”. However, the majority of the credit should go directly to the owners themselves who have obviously built strong businesses that North Grenville residents have embraced.
If there are conditions that are negatively impacting members of our business community, we need to be aware of them, to understand what they are and figure out if there’s anything that we can do to mitigate their impact. In today’s business climate, we simply can’t afford to take our existing businesses and their future prospects for granted. Other communities would be more than happy to have some of our great local businesses relocate there. We also can’t leave out our local community and government organizations who also contribute greatly to the community through local employment and their social contributions.
I’ll always remember one remarkable statistic from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, it explained that up to 80% of job growth in rural areas comes from the success and expansion of existing small to medium-sized businesses. So, what’s the message here? Shiny new things are great, but we simply can’t take what we have for granted. Remember who brought you to the dance or you may end up going home alone.