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A Resilient Community, Led by Resilient Businesses

By Rhonda Keenan
a person looking at the presentation on laptop

This is the first installment of a blog series from the desk of Peterborough & the Kawarthas Economic Development (PKED) President & CEO Rhonda Keenan. “Economic Development Matters” will highlight opportunities, challenges and perspectives on the region’s most important economic development topics.

In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity.

Albert Einstein

Although we were all looking forward to a fresh start to a new year, the COVID-19 global pandemic continues to wreak havoc for the foreseeable future. The pandemic is still ongoing, and we must do everything we can to follow the recommendations of public health officials and provincial orders. However, I am confident that we will figure out this second wave (and any others), just as we did the first. This time we have more experience to help us out.

Small businesses are scrambling once again to adjust their business plans to accommodate for sales. Restaurants have become take-out centres. Parents are working from home but have also become IT support and in-class teaching assistants. Tensions are high, frustrations continue to build and it seems that few of us are enjoying this ‘new’ normal.

Despite all those things, we remain a resilient community, led by resilient businesses. 

Rhonda Keenan, President & CEO

While this pandemic ravages on, I wanted to share a few positive spotlights at a time when we could use some good news stories to lift spirits:

  • Congratulations to Merit Precision and Charlotte Products for joining forces to expand and create a commercial line for hand-sanitizers and disinfectants.
  • We have identified 14 more entrepreneurs that will become the latest cohort of Starter Company Plus programming.
  • We added a virtual advisor available to support Peterborough & the Kawarthas’ small business operators and entrepreneurs to work through some of the challenges that they have encountered along the way over this past year.
  • In partnership with Community Futures Peterborough, we have a launched new funding program to support local tourism-dependent businesses from the impacts of COVID-19.
  • Other community partners are expanding their offerings and demonstrating that “when there is a will there is a way”. Congratulations to Lang Pioneer Village for creating virtual education programs with free and paid resources for teachers and parents.
  • Fleming College has also created new online learning courses to help us adjust to the new conditions that we are working in.

COVID-19 has certainly been a strong adversary, but within the first few weeks of 2021, it is clear that Peterborough & the Kawarthas is up for the challenge.

Stay well and stay safe,

Rhonda Keenan

What’s Happening with Peterborough & the Kawarthas Economic Development

Highlights of 2020

Notable activities that advanced objectives of PKED’s Future Ready Economic Development Strategy in 2020 included:

  • Completed First Annual Business Count
  • Development of 3-year Culinary Tourism Strategy (beginning 2021)
  • Completed Aggregation and Distribution Feasibility Study
  • Successfully executed COVID-19 Destination Recovery Marketing Campaigns
  • Joined Great Taste of Ontario Roadtrip Project (2020-2022)
  • Launched Augmented Reality-powered Dream Book (Travel Planner)
  • Collaborated for development of Mayor and Warden’s Economic Recovery Task Force and creation of COVID-19 Economic Recovery Plan
  • Developed comprehensive COVID-19 Business Recovery Portal
  • Created new position for Virtual Business Advisor to support entrepreneurs
  • Launched Online Learning Platform on PKED website
  • Hosted or supported a variety of events and workshops, including: TD Economic Outlook, Business Workshops, Shoulder Season and Culinary Tourism Workshops, Virtual Aerospace Summit and Tri-Association Manufacturers Conference

Looking ahead to 2021

Notable activities that will advance objectives of PKED’s Future Ready Economic Development Strategy in 2021 include:

  • Continued Delivery of Starter Company Plus and Summer Company Entrepreneurship programs
  • Collaborating with Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce on Spring Business Summit; plan/implement fall entrepreneurship event
  • Promotion of Virtual Business Advisory Centre services, including: Online Learning and Workshop Series
  • Execute 2nd Annual Business Count Survey
  • Conduct Agriculture Inventory Project and refresh/relaunch of Kawartha Choice Farm Fresh Program/Website in partnership with City of Kawartha Lakes
  • Oversee Tourism Resiliency Fund Program
  • Work with Invest Ontario, Ontario East, Skills Advance Ontario, Workforce Development Board, New Canadian Centre, Innovation Cluster, Kawartha Manufacturers Association, Tourism Industry Association of Ontario, Culinary Tourism Alliance, Ontario Tourism Education Corporation and others on various projects and committees
  • Support Green Economy Hub Peterborough