RELEASED: June 24, 2016

Businesses throughout the region have created 444 new jobs over the past three years, with plans to hire another 236 over the next 18 months, a new survey suggests.

Completed earlier this year by the Orillia Area Community Development Corporation (CDC) along with several regional partners, the retention and expansion study queried 160 area businesses about their past and future hiring plans as well as what they would like to see happen to ensure the region’s business climate continues to keep pace with others.

“The purpose was to find out how businesses feel about doing business in our community,” said local CDC general manager Wendy Timpano.

According to Timpano, that goal made it essential to provide a regional overview by not just surveying companies within Orillia city limits, but also those operating in the outlying townships of Oro-Medonte, Ramara and Severn, as well as Rama First Nation.

“Businesses are quite happy,” she said. “Over 75% said their impression of doing business in this community was good or excellent. So, those are good numbers.”

As well, Timpano noted, survey participants said they planned to hire a combined 236 new employees over the next year and a half.

“We surveyed all types of industries,” she said, adding no industry was left out, with representation ranging from construction, manufacturing, retail, food and accommodations to arts, entertainment and culture.

“Overall, businesses are reporting that this region is a good place to do business. Several have experienced growth and anticipate further expansion over the next 18 months.”

With pooled resources, as well as support from the province and the County of Simcoe, the study aimed to engage local businesses in an effort to identify positive and challenging attributes of the region as a place to do business.

“But there’s still work to be done,” according to Timpano.

To that end, the survey offers four short-term and six longer-term recommendations to ensure a positive business climate not only remains in the area, but is also further fostered.

“The great thing about the project is that it was regional,” she said. “We were able to capture individual responses, but (also) the region as a whole.”

Some of the key recommendations involve developing a “love of your community” campaign as well as a regional investment-attraction strategy while enhancing existing training opportunities and creating new ones for industry with an emphasis on health and safety and computer skills programming.

Other, longer-term recommendations include encouraging and supporting businesses to better align store hours with major festivals and events taking place nearby, improving dialogue between event organizers, businesses and accommodations, developing packages for sports tourism conferences/events while also creating a workforce communications event and innovative regional transportation options.

There are also plans to develop a business-attraction program, including the creation of a welcome package for new businesses.

“The quality of life here is fantastic,” Timpano said. “That comes out as one of the top factors for the area.”


Source: Packet & Times