I am cleaning out old files, and I ran across a report I presented to Dryden Council back in April, 2012 (while I was still a City Councillor). It was about a workshop designed to be of help to our Tourist Industry, sponsored by our own Dryden Development Corporation.
There were some pretty high level speakers. One point they made was that it is as easy to get here from Kentucky now as it was from Chicago 30 years ago, and we need to expand the range of our marketing. They thought there is still a great demand for our wonderful outdoor experience opportunities, we have a good foundation for destination tourist industries, and we should ignore the politically correct folks speaking disparagingly of our tourism industry as ‘hook and bullet’. Most importantly, they emphasized the need for everyone to adopt a positive, optimistic outlook.
Here is my report to Dryden Council, from April, 2012, Quote,
“I went to the tourism workshop put on by our economic development people last week, and it seems worthwhile to report on that to Council. I was there as a citizen, not a councillor, and it was a little disappointing we were not represented, except by the staff who were running things, which I might add they did a very good job, kudo’s to Dana Soucie and Catherine Goldsworthy.
Most of the people in attendance were forward-looking business people, and they and our staff got some ideas as to how we can do an even better job, and the program was well worth running.
This once again drove home the point we have been learning these past 5 years or so, economic development is not about chasing smokestacks, although of course we need to make it easy for business to locate here. Economic development is first and foremost about making our town a place people want to live, and if we do, people move here and bring economic activity with them. I think we have been doing a pretty good job, and would point out the report from the University of Toronto calling Dryden “Toronto of the north”, but we can and will do better.
One of the things the presenter drove home was the importance of a positive attitude among all the people visitors meet, visitors who have a good experience will come back or even move here, but if they encounter people who do not know what we have to offer or have a negative attitude, it hurts.
I was impressed with last week’s Observer. Mardi Plomp did an excellent job of going through the positive things that are happening in our downtown. I was especially impressed with the interview with mayor Kennard of Ignace, which exudes optimism; he looks at the opportunities out there and embraces the future. I discussed this article with some Ignace people at the Tourism Session, and the indication was that, yes, there are problems, still lots of vacant housing, and a small population base to start with, but generally there is optimism that things will get better in Ignace.
Certainly Dryden is better off than Ignace, we still have most of our forest industry, and we have the good news about more development at Domtar. We have a housing shortage, both to buy and to rent, and property prices have held up well, and our population is not shrinking. Surely if Ignace can have such an optimistic cheerful outlook, we can do no less. In spite of short-term difficulties, we do have a bright future and we need to tell the world.” End quote.
That was 2012. Even more true today, for all our northern towns. I am impressed with Mayor Wilson taking the initiative, and starting the ball rolling on some Forward Planning and Leadership. We can hope that will dispel the negative pall that has hung over Dryden for the past few years, and allow our usual optimism to show through.