Jane Torrance: Business Development

Did you know that there are 1451 businesses in Mississippi Mills?  That’s a lot of business, and a lot of people employed!
Lanark County Municipalities Total Businesses % of total
Mississippi Mills 1451 26.7
Beckwith 404 7.4
Montague 240 4.4
Carleton Place 936 17.2
Drummond North Elmsley 518 9.5
Tay Valley 503 9.3
Perth 799 14.7
Lanark Highlands 581 10.7
TOTAL  5432 100.0

In Mississippi Mills, our economic and community development plan is simple in concept, and proven in success:  we focus on quality of life and know that people will want to visit here, move here, and move their businesses here.

In this term of Council, we have sold an unprecedented 13 lots in the business park – in fact we are almost sold out of the current phase, and investors know that Mississippi Mills is ready and open for business.  We have thriving downtowns in Pakenham and Almonte and a growing uptown on Ottawa Street.  Home-based businesses are growing in number and sector specializations are being recognized.

Mississippi Mills has 1451 registered businesses (per 2016 Census data) which represents 26.7% of all businesses in Lanark County. Research conducted by OMAFRA (Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Farming and Rural Affairs) shows that existing businesses create 74 – 90% of new jobs. In Lanark County (2016), 85% of employment comes from small businesses that employ less than 5 people, and over 91% when including small businesses that employ less than 10 people

Mississippi Mills has a vibrant business community. We host quarterly business breakfasts in Almonte, Ramsay and Pakenham locations, and get 100 – 150 people out for 7am breakfasts because these business owners recognize the value of networking, cross-promotion, and learning from each other.

The challenges and solutions as I see in the next 4 years are related to our growth and to current technology, and include

  • Connectivity – to participate equitably with urban areas, and to compete in a digital economy, small rural businesses (and residents) need high speed and stable internet and cell service;
    • Participate at County level in the EORN $213 million project public-private partnership to improve both the reach and quality of cellular data services in rural Eastern Ontario
    • Participate in and support MM2020 to bring fibre to rural areas businesses and residences; recognize connectivity as modern essential infrastructure equal to roads and sidewalks
  • Participate in the formal Lanark County Business Retention and Expansion program that has resulted from the Lanark County Economic Development Strategic Plan, and commit to addressing barriers that are exposed through the process, including a business burden reduction program
  • Expansion to the business park in Almonte;
    • Include next phase in 2018 budget so a stock of serviced lands is maintained
  • Conduct a review of employment lands inventory and needs in all 3 wards;
    • as part of COP review, determine our needs and current inventory
  • Expansion of natural gas to reduce heating cost to businesses (coming to Almonte Business Park this fall after 4 years of lobbying Enbridge and Ministry of Infrastructure)
    • continue lobbying for this essential service
  • Expansion of the Ottawa River Power Corp boundaries around Almonte to service business with lower electricity costs
  • Participate in the Regional Economic Development Alliance(led by Regional Economic Development Officer at Valley Heartland)

My Experience Produces Results

I have participated in Mississippi Mills Economic and Community Development for many of my years as Councillor, including for the first 2 years of this term.

At Lanark County, I was elected and chaired Economic Development, which includes land-use planning, agriculture, forestry, tourism, transportation, and trails for 2 years.

I have also sat on the Board at Valley Heartland, our Community Futures Development Corporation, for 4 years, sitting on the Planning Committee that administers the Eastern Ontario Development Program(EODP) and allocation of grants based on pre-set indicators including job creation.

In the past 4 years, EODP has funded an unprecedented 19 projects with a total of $360,655 in Mississippi Mills!  On top of that, Valley Heartland has invested $1,233,320 in 21 businesses through the loans program.  These numbers speak of the success of our business community, and my successful and persuasive representation.

While at Valley Heartland, I championed partnering with OMAFRA (after seeing a presentation at Rural Ontario Municipal Conference) to work on a Lanark County-wide Economic Development Strategic Plan, and sat on the Leadership Team to see this completed and now being actioned.

For the last year, I have become one of the biggest “dragons” in a dragon-den styled competitive grant program called Starter Plus at the Small Business Advisory Centre where we evaluate business plans and presentations to determine which businesses are likely to succeed.

I am proud of my record knowing my input and participation into Business Development has been welcomed, respected, and sought-after.

To learn more about my platform, please visit www.janetorrance.ca