Adapting to change in Saugeen Shores
Economic Recovery Strategy supports local business, service delivery
Sponsored by Saugeen Shores
The greatest challenge to ever face economic development professionals arrived in March 2020. What came with it was an opportunity to make a significant impact on local recovery.
We rushed to gather information, react to current needs, and anticipate future needs. Looking toward long-term impacts, community collaboration and communication became more important than ever.
In Saugeen Shores, we had been riding a steady wave of record-breaking growth:
- businesses were expanding and thriving in our economic environment;
- we were welcoming new businesses and residents;
- new homes and commercial properties were under construction; and
- more than 30 acres of employment land were getting ready for development.
Then the pandemic hit – and our economic priorities changed. We knew some of our community’s businesses may not survive the sudden loss of customers and cash flow.
We started to work. We did research and collected data. And we compiled short-term, medium-term, and long-term initiatives. All these initiatives were designed to ease the burden on local businesses.
Task Force on Economic Recovery
To gain feedback right from the source, Saugeen Shores formed the Mayor’s Task Force on Economic Recovery. The task force consisted of community leaders, business owners, and economic development stakeholders. The task force addressed the most urgent needs of the business community. Their input and guidance is also reflected in the new Saugeen Shores Strong Economic Recovery Strategy.
Each task force meeting generated new ideas and set priorities for each of the major areas. These included small business recovery, marketing and promotion, business supports, and municipal pivoting. This was coupled with data collection and analysis, as well as plan review.
Also, there was a workforce study that had been planned before the pandemic started. This study proved to be even more useful under current conditions.
Saugeen Shores Strong: Shop Local
With the task force, the Town advanced several initiatives supporting the business community. Some of these initiatives included:
- a revised patio policy and patio zoning by-law change;
- a Saugeen Shores Strong shop local campaign;
- interactive posters for businesses;
- virtual tourism videos;
- COVID-19 print materials for businesses; and
- “Open for Business” promotional videos.
Since the pandemic started, the Saugeen Shores business community has adapted. They have changed the way they do business and deliver services. And with a solid Economic Recovery Strategy in place, the Town can now further support their needs. Despite the economic challenges, Saugeen Shores continues to be strong, resilient, and innovative.
To learn more about Saugeen Shores’ recovery efforts, visit SaugeenShores.ca/SaugeenShoresStrong. MW
✯ Municipal World Insider and Executive Members: You might also be interested in Erin O’Hoski’s article: How small and mid-sized communities can prepare for post-COVID-19 growth. Note that you can now access the complete collection of past articles (and more) from your membership dashboard.
Heather Hyde brings collaborative thinking and creativity to the role of Economic Development Officer (EDO) with the Town of Saugeen Shores. As the EDO in the fastest growing community in the region, Hyde facilitates business attraction and expansion initiatives. Her strong roots in the community, combined with her passion for strategic marketing assist in leveraging local assets through innovative solutions.
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