Lisa Gervais: Businesses have a spring in their step
|By Lisa Gervais - Editor | March 8, 2017|
Things are looking up in the Haliburton County business community.
Let’s start with the March 1 re-opening of Baked and Battered in downtown Haliburton. Owners of this popular eatery made the decision to close for the winter for the first time in their five years last autumn. Factoring into their decision was the minimum wage increase that took effect this past Jan. 1, and that will see a further
$1-an-hour phase-in next Jan. 1. Like many businesses, they’ve also seen increases in hydro, food supply and winter maintenance costs. So, having them re-open is not only a boost for loyal customers but their peers in
the business community as well.
And, this week’s news that Jerry Walker is getting back on track with his new Home Hardware on the outskirts of the village is also most welcome. Things ground to a halt when Walker and business partner, Jamie Chisholm got into a dispute with the County of Haliburton over the need for a turning lane into the development. It was going to cost more than $100,000 so Walker and Chisholm appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board. However, they and the county have reached an agreement so the project can move forward. Next steps? A building permit application followed by construction. Walls could go up by the end of May or early June. It could take 6-8 months to complete with an opening next spring. In addition, Walker’s opening an appliance store in the space formerly used by the Great Haliburton Feed Company.
And, you know it’s spring when SIRCH’s Cook It Up program gets underway. I went to Molly’s in Minden this past Monday to cover the first of the community lunches. There are seven trainees this year. If numbers trend like they did last year, when 76 per cent of trainees got offered jobs in Haliburton County, that means another
five people could be working once they’ve finished the program later this spring.
Then, there’s SIRCH’s new program, Ready for Retail, which is also beginning to roll. Much like Cook It Up, it’s training people to work in retail. Now that 15 participants have received in-class training, they’ll be opening
and operating the Thrift Warehouse on Mondays—the day of the week it’s normally closed—from this month.
With employers complaining about a lack of workers in the county, programs such as Cook It Up and Ready
for Retail are perfect training grounds for just these types of workers, who will also be coached in resume writing and interview skills.
And, then, there’s the chamber’s Support Local Initiative which is beginning to get off of the ground and which we’ll write more about in future.
Finally, after yet another record number of nominations, the business community will come together next Saturday, March 17 for the Haliburton Highlands Chamber of Commerce 12th annual business and community achievement awards gala.
After another challenging winter, it is an opportunity to come together to celebrate our successes and our resiliency.
So, yes, things are looking up in the Halibuton County business community.
Lisa Gervais is the editor for The Highlander.