The Haliburton County Development Corporation (HCDC) reflected on its successes and the helping hand they gave businesses amidst the pandemic at its 35th annual general meeting Oct. 7.

The organization met via Zoom and highlighted all the support provided to businesses this year, including $932,500 through its COVID loans program and $994,889 distributed through the federal Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF). It also spotlighted its more usual assistance for the year ending March 31, including $55,000 through its Local Initiatives Program and two new businesses launched via its incubator.

Chair Peter Smith expressed his gratitude to his board, staff, and organizational partners including all levels of government.

“Despite COVID perhaps being an opportunity … where we don’t feel we’re in the driver’s seat, I remember people getting together with a single focus and just working together,” Smith said. “We owe a great deal of thanks to everyone who has participated, small and large.”

The corporation has continued to support businesses throughout the pandemic, with more to come. It will distribute another $560,000 through the second round of the RRRF.

Tim Degeer of auditor Dawson Gray said the organization’s annual audit was seamless, even with COVID-19.

“Want to congratulate your organization on an outstanding year and thank you for acting swiftly when the pandemic did strike,” he said. “It’s certainly something that’s noted and appreciated in the community.”

Program and operations co-ordinator Autumn Wilson highlighted the Haliburton Guitar Studio for the organization’s success story. The business owned by Nick Russell started at HCDC’s business incubator in 2018, starting part-time and going fulltime in a year. Wilson said the studio now has 30 students and has kept going in the pandemic, offering additional online services. The Community Futures Network of Canada also selected it as Ontario’s success story for its annual report.

“Nick and his business have become a staple in our community and an incredible story of hard work, resilience, authenticity and kindness,” Wilson said.

Warden Liz Danielsen attended and offered congratulations to HCDC.

“Your assistance to local business and not-for-profit organizations is unparalleled and does so much to help the economy here in the Highlands, particularly during these challenging times,” Danielsen said. “It is my hope that the County will move ahead in the near future with an economic development portfolio.”

“I do want to thank, at this time, the staff for their continued professionalism,” Smith said. “This has made this entire experience a positive one.”

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