Ignace puts plan in place to woo business, investment: Township offering incentives in campaign to revitalize community.

Author:Ross, Ian
Position:DRYDEN-SIOUX LOOKOUT
 
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Ignace is rolling out the welcome mat for investors.

The northwestern Ontario forestry town unveiled a promotional campaign and community readiness strategy on June 14 to showcase the new approach it's taking toward future development that the officials surely believe is coming their way.

Branding the event as "Explore our possibilities and celebrate our success," the township is providing a slew of incentives to attract people and business, and offer a glimpse of the economic prospects in the hopper for the Trans-Canada Highway community, about a three-hour drive west of Thunder Bay.

"We believe that Ignace is going to be transformed in the coming years," boldly predicts Jason Felix, the township's economic development manager.

A new website, logo, and promotional video are part of the rebranding effort along with a package of incentives for new and existing businesses, including municipal tax breaks, accessibility grants, and a program to sell surplus town property for up to 90 per cent off its market value.

Felix is hoping to duplicate the success--and maybe garner the same national attention--experienced by Smooth Rock Falls last year where he last worked.

That former one-mill town in northeastern Ontario was in dire financial straits and experienced an exodus of residents following the closure of the local pulp and paper mill in 2006.

Smooth Rock Falls' officials launched a campaign laden with incentives and the promise of cheap land to woo people and business to the beleaguered community. A Toronto developer quickly snapped up the lots, prompting the municipality to initiate a second round of land sales.

"With the anticipated growth that we are expecting, this place is going to be full to capacity," Felix said.

Ignace has experienced a wave of optimism before, back when the community's population was more than 3,000.

When Falconbridge and Noranda Mines were operating in the area in the 1970s, the municipality built a subdivision, installing hydrants and laying out streets named after the Great Lakes. Only jack pine populated the dormant development with the roads reduced to trails that lead nowhere.

This time, Felix said, they're talking about growth in a more pragmatic and strategic way.

"We don't want to react to growth; we want to take a proactive approach and build capacity in anticipation of what is to come."

This time, the township is in the running to host a nuclear waste repository and hopes to capture some of the spinoff...

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