County of Haliburton council is considering a proposal to bring area businesses into one, locally-based online storefront. Local web developer Donna Enright presented to council June 24 to pitch a centralized e-commerce and marking platform for the Haliburton Highlands.

She sought County support and council agreed to submit questions and hold a meeting to discuss the idea in more detail. Enright said with the pandemic hitting businesses hard and online shopping booming through the likes of Amazon, it would be best for local businesses to unite with a centralized e-commerce site.

“This is not a time, in my opinion, for each business to have to promote itself,” she said. “But instead for the community to pull together and support each other.”

Her site would have a combined view of all products and services from all participating businesses. Each vendor or association would pay a $235 set-up fee and a monthly usage fee of $40, as well as standard merchant account fees for each transaction, which she said would be about three per cent. Each vendor’s section would include links back to their own websites and any social media accounts.

“I laid awake at night thinking, ‘I know this solution could work’,” she said. “If I didn’t find a way of getting it into the hands of people, I’d totally regret this forever.”

She cited her business, TechnicalitiesPlus, as being experienced enough to head this,

having developed e-commerce sites used by print media companies across Canada. She said her business would cover the website redevelopment costs, which she estimated at $24,850. Enright said she wanted the County to establish a pandemic recovery plan, adopt the new site as a primary tool to support businesses, help source funding for those who cannot afford the start-up fees and promote the platform through its tourism department.

Coun. Brent Devolin said although the details need to be worked out, he thinks it is a great idea.

“I’m supportive in principle,” he said. “I would like some time to think about it … It’d be a private enterprise and we’d need to determine, as the County and other organizations, how we can participate to be fair.”

Coun. Carol Moffatt also said she had a lot of questions that would need to get answered first.

“I won’t ask them all right now,” she said. “The idea, in theory, is really great and something you can really move forward in this County.”

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