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Cobourg council hears of business-attraction plan

Cecilia Nasmith

By Cecilia Nasmith, Northumberland Today

COBOURG - 

If Downtown Marketing Partnership Committee chair Brian Wynn is correct, the business-attraction play his committee is developing is a first of its kind for the town.

“We have never implemented or fielded an attraction marketing plan in the past,” Wynn said at last week’s committee-of-the-whole council meeting.

“This will be the town’s first shot at it, and we are against other towns whose attraction and imaging are improving. If we don’t get this plan in action very soon, we will continue to lose ground against our competition.”

Wynn was accompanied by Cobourg’s economic-development director Wendy Gibson to discuss the committee’s market analysis and business-attraction study.

Part of the process has been an analysis of retail locations, where Gibson said they have identified more than 20 vacant commercial listings in the study area (basically the downtown-vitalization area, she explained).

Many of them will require upgrades prior to occupancy, and many are suitable or office space rather than retail. None were what she termed restaurant-ready.

They also studied existing businesses to determine what kind of new businesses might have the best chance of success.

Gibson said a work plan has been provided to the Downtown Business Improvement Area and Northumberland Central Chamber of Commerce to get started on.

“I think one of the key secrets is longer hours,” Councillor Forrest Rowden suggested.“I know that’s tough on businesses, but that attracts a lot of visitors.

“I don’t think any councillor here doesn’t support the plan and the two years’ work involved with the plan,” Deputy Mayor John Henderson said.

“The question we need to decipher is, how do we deliver that.”

Henderson suggested this be discussed further at council’s next committee-of-the-whole meeting Sept. 11.

cnasmith@postmedia.com