Economic Development team looking to attract new investors, amongst other initiatives, in 2014

 

 

The Town of Amherstburg's manager of economic development and strategic asset planning Tony DeThomasis speaks to members of the Amherstburg Chamber of Commerce and community stakeholders last week.

The Town of Amherstburg’s manager of economic development and strategic asset planning Tony DeThomasis speaks to members of the Amherstburg Chamber of Commerce and community stakeholders last week.

By Adam D’Andrea

Attracting new businesses, finding uses for underutilized town property and using social media to promote Amherstburg are just a few of the key initiatives the town’s economic development team will be looking at this year.

The economic development team met with members of the Amherstburg Chamber of Commerce and a handful of community stakeholders April 28 to discuss their plans for 2014. Manager of economic development and strategic asset planning Tony DeThomasis said the event was a great opportunity to network and discuss how the town can move forward economically.

“The town has invested heavily into infrastructure that supports development in commercial, residential and industrial sectors,” said DeThomasis. “So we believe that we are now in a position where we can truly say we’re investment ready.”

Other strategies the economic development team plan on addressing this year are promoting industrial land and marketing wineries and agri-tourism to promote vineyard development.

“We think that’s a really untapped industry. There’s about 19 wineries in our area and I think marketing those will help us to develop our strategy in attracting a hotel as well,” said DeThomasis.

The Chamber of Commerce organized a survey with students from St. Clair College’s marketing program to identify what businesses and services Amherstburg residents think are needed in town. Although the results are still being analyzed, the students met with the Chamber to discuss the preliminary findings several weeks ago.

“A lot of people that said we need a medical centre in town, and specifically 12-24 hour emergency care so you can take your child in at 3 a.m. instead of running all the way to Windsor,” said Chamber of Commerce general manager Monica Bunde. “There’s also not a whole lot of entertainment here in Amherstburg. Restaurants, sure, but after what do you do? So people are leaving Amherstburg to head into Windsor so they can do all of the things they want to do.”

Other businesses that residents felt were needed included a women’s clothing store, lumber store, chain restaurants such as Swiss Chalet and Boston Pizza and a hotel or motel.

Revamping the Town of Amherstburg’s outdated website and properly utilizing social media are two ways the economic development team plans to attract and inform potential investors.

“We want to include local business directories, development maps, industrial and commercial sites, downtown business opportunities, downtown parking, population workforce, all the demographics that an employer or perspective investor needs when looking at the town of Amherstburg,” said DeThomasis.

Local real estate agent Tony D’Alimonte attended the meeting and said social media would be essential in promoting the town and attracting people to the website.

“We need to interact with social media too and ask some of these people that have moved into town recently, get their opinion and get them out there,” said D’Alimonte. “People like to hear these stories.”

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