We could be The Next Big Thing

The Glengarry News - - The Opinion Page - -- Richard Ma­honey [email protected]­gar­rynews.ca

Min­i­mal­ism, craft beer, lo­cal food and any­thing with an “ar­ti­sanal” la­bel are just some of the trends that are re­shap­ing peo­ple’s buy­ing habits, and their di­ets. With a new year on the hori­zon, we are wont to try to an­tic­i­pate what The Next Big Thing will be.

How about ir­re­sistible pro­mo­tions to get peo­ple to move to small towns? What about of­fers of cheap land? What do you think of fi­nan­cial in­cen­tives?

While tax re­bates are not as in­ter­est­ing as a new and im­proved ver­sion of your favourite liq­uid stim­u­lant, money al­ways gets peo­ple’s at­ten­tion.

Thus, as our new mu­nic­i­pal coun­cils be­gin their new terms, they ought to find spa­ces on their agen­das for In­no­va­tive Ideas That Will Re­verse Pop­u­la­tion De­cline.

For in­spi­ra­tion, eyes should be cast to­wards the north of On­tario, Smooth Rock Falls, to be spe­cific.

Si­t­u­ated be­tween Cochrane and Ka­puskas­ing, the town of 1,330 has man­aged to re­vive it­self by reach­ing out to new­com­ers. In 2006, when the town’s pa­per mill shut, the pop­u­la­tion be­gan to plunge. But in the past year, a cam­paign to re­ju­ve­nate the com­mu­nity be­gan to pay off.

North and South Glen­garry are spruc­ing up their down­town sec­tors with Com­mu­nity Im­prove­ment Plans.

Smooth Rock Falls’ pack­age of at­trac­tive mon­e­tary in­cen­tives is like the CIPs on steroids.

Res­i­den­tial lots sell for $500, busi­ness own­ers can get a loan or grant up to a max­i­mum of 15 per cent of el­i­gi­ble costs up to a max­i­mum of $1,000,000. Plus, a busi­ness can get a 75 per cent tax re­bate in its first year op­er­a­tion.

Its “Near North, Near Per­fect” pro­mo­tion gained in­ter­na­tional me­dia at­ten­tion. In the past year, about 25 new fam­i­lies moved to town; new busi­nesses are open­ing; the town hall has han­dled 1,000 queries from in­ter­ested par­ties.

In ad­di­tion to the money, Smooth Rock Falls is also tout­ing a bilin­gual work force, low cost of liv­ing, slower pace of life, and ac­cess to es­sen­tial ser­vices. Wait a minute. Doesn’t Glen­garry also have all of those as­sets?

The Celtic Heart­land has the added ad­van­tage of be­ing si­t­u­ated be­tween ma­jor cities and mar­kets, the cli­mate here is not as harsh as that of the Near North, and it is near the Amer­i­can bor­der.

Prox­im­ity to the land of the free can be seen as a bonus if more and more ner­vous Amer­i­cans fear You Know Who may re­turn to the White House for a sec­ond term. Yan­kee refugees could be a huge po­ten­tial source of new res­i­dents, and tax rev­enues, if the Don­ald is re-elected.

Ob­vi­ously, there are many other rea­sons why peo­ple would love to call Glen­garry their home.

We have the goods. It is merely a ques­tion of how we can mar­ket our as­sets to a wider au­di­ence.

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