In 2004 the need for increased access to high-speed Internet-based communications was clear. What wasn’t clear was how to quantify just how large the digital divide was in Eastern Ontario, and how to advocate for this need to garner support for both public and private sector investment. Beginning in 2005 with support from the Eastern Ontario Development Program (EODP) and led by the Kawartha Lakes CFDC, we embarked upon an exhaustive research exercise designed by a group of technology consultants, which captured the delivery areas of the 65 Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) in Eastern Ontario. The research resulted in “A Comprehensive Broadband Gap Analysis of Eastern Ontario” that clearly illustrated the large gaps in high-speed accessibility in the region and also related the impacts this deficiency had on elements critical to economic development in Eastern Ontario: Business Competitiveness and Development, Health, Youth Retention, Family Income, Distance Education and the availability of Government Services Online.
The initial research was subsequently verified by both Industry Canada and the Province of Ontario and spurred discussions at all levels, focussed on how to close this clear lack of access. Subsequent rounds of EODP helped to foster a proposed Implementation Recommendation and several meetings on how best to tackle the implementation issue. A partnership of the EO CFDC Network, the Eastern Ontario Wardens’ Caucus and the Ontario East Economic Development Commission campaigned aggressively with counties, municipalities and most importantly, senior levels of government, and also worked closely with these same groups as support programming was developed. Ultimately two significant funding announcements were made resulting in an estimated $250 million investment in a public/ private partnership to increase both access and capacity of Broadband across Eastern Ontario.
The corporation formed to oversee the build of the high-speed infrastructure, the Eastern Ontario Regional Network Inc. managed an extensive implementation of technological advancements in Eastern Ontario, which now delivers higher speeds and bandwidth to over 95% of homes and businesses in Eastern Ontario. In the City of Kawartha Lakes, our high-speed access which was less than 45% at the time of our GAP Analysis Study, sits today at approximately 98%. In addition, the KLCFDC advocated for incentives for those requiring satellite services to upgrade their access and these became a feature of the project at a later date.
Through our relationship with FedDev Ontario, the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario and the Eastern Ontario Development Program (EODP), we have also provided over $6,000,000 in localized funding that has supported business and strategic planning, skills development, access to capital, capital and infrastructure improvements, labour market advancement opportunities, support of the expansion of Broadband/ high-speed Internet in Eastern Ontario, community capacity-building programs, youth internship opportunities and many more local and regional community-based initiatives. For smaller initiatives, we can also look to provide direct assistance through our Community Economic Development (CED) support program.
The KLCFDC's Eastern Ontario Broadband GAP Analysis spurred an investment of some $250,000,000 into our region and today remains as the single most significant project to emerge from EODP support; a true story of success.
The new Days Inn and Suites in Lindsay is the first brand new hotel in the community in three decades. A long-term goal of the municipality, it took the hard work and collaboration of a group of leading citizens and business people to make the dream of a new hotel in Kawartha Lakes a reality.
When the ownership group, CKL Hotels Inc, approached the KLCFDC, our Board of Directors was quick to grasp the significance of what was happening. Through the Eastern Ontario Development Program, EODP, we were able to provide the maximum award of $100,000 to the initiative.
Quickly the project began to take shape and the community got excited. The build in itself created the equivalent of 80 annualized construction jobs. Local materials were used wherever possible, as was local expertise in terms of catering, promotion, product development and design. There are approximately 30 fulltime staff now employed at the property.
“The funding we received through EODP enabled us to expand our capacity in our business meeting and hospitality offerings."
- Don Brown, President of CKL Hotels
Don Brown, president of CKL Hotels when asked about the KLCFDC’s participation was quick to reply, “The funding we received through EODP enabled us to expand our capacity in our business meeting and hospitality offerings. We were able to enhance our facilities and design even more attractive places for businesses and groups to enjoy. We also created attractions, most specifically our swimming pool and work out areas, increasing the overall appeal and value proposition for our visitors.”
The results have been outstanding. Room accommodations have far exceeded forecasts and numerous groups, sports teams and associations are booking well into the future. CKL Hotels is a true, EODP success story.
No longer able to best serve their clients to the extent they wanted and that their customers were looking for, Homestead Oxygen & Medical Equipment, H.O.M.E., went looking for a larger property. Once secured, they applied to EODP to help in creating the type of facility that would be even more inviting to both existing and new customers as well as work towards growing the businesses and services they looked to offer.
“We went to the KLCFDC to see what they might be able to do in assisting us with our goals and what we experienced was extraordinary!”, say Kelly and Liz Parker, owners of Homestead. “The Directors jumped on-board, supporting our application and the Staff jumped in, doing whatever they could to help us, as we had never applied to a program like EODP before. The supported us every step of the way and still are to this day”.
The Eastern Ontario Development Program, EODP, contribution allowed H.O.M.E. to expand its product and services offering, including increasing its abilities to customize products to meet specific client care needs. Products are now better showcased, demonstrations are easier to stage, and the accessibility to on-site services greatly improved. The new 10,000 square foot facility is 40% larger than their previous space, making it more open and inviting for customers. The growth in resulting business has also lead to the creation of 2 new full-time positions.
"We would certainly suggest to any business looking to grow that they speak to the KLCFDC about their programs and how they can assist them with the plans they have.”
- Liz & Kelly Parker, Owners, Homestead Oxygen & Medical Equipment
The Parkers add, “What’s also great is the pride our staff takes in showing off our new facility, and that our customers enjoy it as well. We would certainly suggest to any business looking to grow that they speak to the KLCFDC about their programs and how they can assist with the plans they have.”
From its beginnings at a small farm near Oakwood in 1989, to now being the second largest goat cheese producer in Canada, Mariposa Dairy has seen unprecedented growth. The KLCFDC has been a part of the business for almost 10 years now and have provided support to this incredible expansion on a number of occasions.
“The CFDC helped us when we first went to the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in the mid-2000’s, allowing us to expand awareness of our brand and the quality of our product”, says Bruce Vandenberg. Bruce and his wife, Sharon, have seen their vision of, “…a small goat herd from which we would sell some product off the farm,” according to Sharon, to a 40,000+ square foot facility, which at peak periods employs upwards of 100 people.
“When we approached the KLCFDC in 2009 about a small business loan, they agreed to lend us the money when it wasn’t that easy for us to get all the financing we needed. This was a critical point in our growth and the Board of Directors and staff made the whole thing simple and smooth. Over time we have asked for assistance a number of times and the support we’ve received has helped us in automation, product development, training and most recently, when we needed to double our capacity by building a new production facility.”
- Bruce and Sharon Vandenburg, Owner/Operators, Mariposa Dairy
The quality of the Mariposa Dairy product, often marketing under the brand name, Celebrity Cheeses, is now world-renowned, with numerous national and international awards as well as superb recognition locally and regionally. The Vandenbergs are very proud of this but what is even more important for them is the support they bring back to the community. “Over 80% of every dollar we secure in product sales stays in Ontario and about 70% is within 100 miles of our plant.” Bruce goes on to state, “The KLCFDC has played as much a part in our success as almost anyone we’ve worked with.”