HCDC a shining light of success

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It’s been a big week for the Haliburton County Development Corporation (HCDC).

The organization unveiled its new digs – The Link, located on County Road 21 beside Haliburton Timber Mart – last Wednesday, welcoming around 50 of the community’s most prominent business leaders for tours of the facility.

The project, months in the making, is significant in that it provides a recognizable face for business services to the community. As well as housing all HCDC staff and operations, including the business incubator – previously located beside Dysart town hall – The Link brings the Haliburton Highlands Chamber of Commerce, the Arts Council – Haliburton Highlands, and services from the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) together under one roof.

The space also features room for networking events that will be used to host a series of workshops and other gatherings soon. There are five private offices available to rent, with eight new ‘hot desks’ providing working space for emerging businesses and entrepreneurs.

Outlining her vision for the new space, Patti Tallman, HCDC executive director, said she hopes it will become a bustling hive of activity for the local business community. Having so many supports and services available in a single location will be a major benefit to many people starting out on their business journey, Tallman said. She noted the concept has been well received in other communities, such as Belleville and Kawartha Lakes.

There was more big news to come. Admittedly, when board chair Pat Kennedy stepped up to the podium, saying he had a major announcement, I was skeptical. Usually these sort of things fall flat, but when Kennedy said HCDC had become the first community funds development corporation in Ontario, and only the second in Canada, to surpass $100 million in support for local business, the gasps and applause from the audience were merited.

Since its inception in 1985, HCDC has assisted 2,324 businesses across the Highlands, a phenomenal number.

Of the 60 or so similar organizations provincewide, HCDC stands above them all – a beacon of success. The organization is what its staff and volunteers say it is: one of the biggest and best CFDCs in the country. That they’ve been able to make such a contribution despite operating in one of the smallest communities, by population, makes the milestone that much more impressive.

Over the years, the organization has earned over $19.8 million in interest, enabling it to support an array of community initiatives outside its usual scope of investment. Non-profits such as SIRCH Community Services, Wetlands and Waterways EcoWatch, and many others have benefitted from money filtered down from HCDC. The organization has been instrumental in the launch of the Haliburton Highlands Sports Hall of Fame, supporting operations at Glebe Park, and the recent inclusion of athletes Taly Williams and Lesley Tashlin on Haliburton’s mural wall of sports heroes. It has helped with the start-up of Skyline Dance Studio, Project SHE, and is supporting efforts to bring a new performing arts centre to the Highlands.

In short, as well as ensuring its bank balance is topped up, HCDC is spreading its wealth across Haliburton County. That commitment to bettering the community it operates in deserves recognition.

Congratulations to all those involved with HCDC on a job well done. Keep doing what you’re doing.