There’s money in the Pontiac

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Dispatches from the 148 by Fred Ryan


Dispatches from the 148 by Fred Ryan

It’s interesting to note the Journal’s reports of new businesses — from Langford’s grocery in Campbell’s Bay to today’s new butcher shop. Good news for MRC-Pontiac’s “capital”!  And it’s good to see some are being provided  by new residents, say by Tony Dar (who has done the same for Shawville and
Otter Lake) as well as by long-term residents? 
There’s a new mini-mall in Clarendon outside Shawville – a very attractive place. Unfortunately it will duplicate a couple of businesses already in town, but competition can help (as well as hinder) existing services. I understand this was built by outside interests.
Shawville has two new pharmacies, a dental clinic, sporting goods shop, and new businesses along Main Street. Plus a fine Thai restaurant, Chez In.
Fort Coulonge, I read in the Journal, opened one of its first new retail business in decades – Le Depot clothing store, investment from Jane Toller, someone with deep roots in Pontiac’s history. There’s a new cafe, a watering hole for our drinkers, and several services.
Campbell’s Bay also has a relatively-new commercial building – housing political offices, (while the town’s bank and supermarket did close). This asset to Front Street comes from local investment — the Kluke family.
There’s a new-ish restaurant and outfitter in Davidson, Magnum, and I read that Esprit is rebuilding. On 148, the glam Giant Tiger, built by local entrepreneurs, the Packs, continues booming. It’ll soon be joined by WA Hodgins’ building
supply complex, nicely upgraded and enlarged.
 There are new businesses in Chapeau – a micro-brewery in the old bank! — Allumettes Island has more, and elsewhere.
Not to mention the inter-generational transfers of businesses – from farms to Shawville’s Ford dealership and Stedmans, Art Fleming, to the Pontiac Journal.
Here are the stars willing to take a chance with the Pontiac – without begging for big government grants, which often lead . . . to Florida hideouts.
The best news, of course, would be new industry,
but, apart from the  slow-moving bio-mass project (the Biomass Conversion Centre and Fiber-Pontiac), there seems little on the horizon. The pellet mill is
dead – what’s happening at the locked-up “Pontiac Industrial Park”, outside Portage du Fort?  If Trebio’s mill equipment was shipped out, that’s a blow. Given the funding to Trebio and allied projects there, it would be worth setting a new course in supporting start-ups – one that guarantees some benefit remain in the Pontiac should any of these projects fold. The industrial park has been immersed in politics fromthe start. Interesting that some local leaders still see lost Tory funding as a missed opportunity, without considering that those funds often seemed tied
to particular individuals, leaving nothing when the money’s gone.  Pontiac’s left with settling pools, holding who-knows-what, and plenty of “construction” refuse and other trucked-in waste (none checked, I understand, for the asbestos some residents claim is being dumped here).
As for other investment, especially in farming and forestry, the news makes
us nervous. NAFTA reorganization may cripple our dairy farmers unless the feds
stand up.
I’ve missed many others – you can use the Readers’ Choice ballot to name your favourities — but these do tell us there is investment and that it is coming from inside, outside, and from immigrants.  “How do we grow from here?” is a question begging new answers and leadership.  We’ll elect a leader for the MRC this fall – let’s insist on thoughtful options, not platitudes, on rallying every resource. 
Meanwhile, it’s us who will make this all work by shopping at home, by
supporting these brave and focused entrepreneurs.