E.D. Corner – June 2022

Good Day,

People seem to perceive me as a very positive person. But, my natural inclination is to envision the worst-case scenario for every situation. I rarely like the outcomes of the worst-case scenarios I create in my head, so I actively work to ensure good things happen. And perhaps because I am so positive we and can make the best of any situation, this comes across as being upbeat. But really, I think I am just stubborn…

I have heard from several stakeholders that finding staff – both year-round and seasonal – is challenging this year. I don’t like the worst-case scenario that came to mind. Namely, that you won’t be able to operate at full capacity, are not going to be able to service your guests the way you want to, and are going to be leaving potential revenue on the table. There is a news story here which can then be accompanied with supporting media relations to connect locals looking for employment to your organization. Here is what I would like you to do:

  1. Send a link to your job opportunities to careers@centralcounties.ca
  2. In the email, write a short description of the struggles you have been having finding staff and another one about why your organization is a great place to work
  3. Share this article with every business you know that is also having staffing issues

What we will do is craft a compelling piece on the struggles you are having which we will disseminate to all local media pushing them back to a landing page at centralcounties.ca that will have links to all of your job sites. Then, we will target social media posts to households within Central Counties and just beyond the borders, once again driving potential employees back to the landing page to find the jobs you have available. For the story to be compelling, we will need a minimum of 10 businesses who are having a hard time finding staff, so if that is you, please take a few minutes to send us the link.

Last month, FedDev Ontario asked us to manage a portion of the Tourism Relief Fund on their behalf. My initial thought was there was no way we would get enough applications to match the money they wanted us to manage. So, we worked with our DMO, municipal, BIA, Chamber and Board of Trade partners to help us spread the word about the opportunity. The application deadline was May 15, and I am thrilled to say that we received close to 120 completed applications with a total fund request that exceeds the amount of funding we have available. I am thrilled because even after two very tough years, our business owners, managers and staff know that they are still relevant. They are so positive about the future that they are willing to invest millions of dollars back into their businesses to help welcome their visitors and provide an amazing experience. The review committee is working their way through the mountain of projects, and we are all overwhelmed by the positivity and resilience of the industry.

Over the last year or so, I have noticed a shift within Central Counties when it comes to role and function. For many years, CCT was counted on to lead initiatives and drive visitation. But, as more and more of you have an understanding of the importance of working together to grow your own business in the context of a destination, our role is shifting to one of facilitator and supporter. This is exactly where we should be. You are the ones that own the products and experiences that make people want to visit. You know what your visitors currently like and what they are asking for.

When the industry is leading the charge, all initiatives have a better chance of succeeding. I mentioned in one of the last newsletters that Aimee, from Alabaster Acres, asked us to help facilitate a networking session for stakeholders in Headwaters. That one meeting has led to CCT working with other stakeholders throughout the region to set up similar informal networking meetings where businesses can meet, learn about each other, and see if there are ways they can work together to collectively drive more visitors through each of their doors. That first meeting also led to CCT organizing and facilitating the development of a stakeholder-led shoulder season strategy. Through a few virtual sessions and culminating in a live workshop, 30-plus stakeholders from across the region got together to discuss opportunities for shoulder-season growth that made sense for their communities. And what we heard most from the group was that more sessions like this were just the thing they wanted to get their creative juices flowing and make new connections and opportunities for themselves.

So, at our AGM on June 15 (live and in-person!!), we have set aside time to further the discussions about shoulder season and, as importantly, give you an opportunity to connect and reconnect with businesses and organizations in your region. It wasn’t until I felt the energy in the room during our in-person strategy workshop, that I realized just how much I missed it. You can’t duplicate the positive feeling that comes from building on ideas and concepts around a table where you can watch people’s reactions, see them thinking about ways to add to an idea, and build in intensity and in many cases, volume. I hope that you all make the time to come out and reconnect.

We are in a good position to move forward this summer and beyond. People are desperate to get out and do “something”. You’ve got “something”. Your neighbours and municipality have more “somethings”. Central Counties is here to help you start down a path of getting to know your neighbours and figure out how each of your “somethings” becomes “SOMETHING” that everyone wants to spend some time experiencing. And I am positive that together, we can make that happen!

Chuck

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E.D. Corner

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Chuck Thibeault

Executive Director, Chuck Thibeault