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High-Tech Info for Old-Style Product Wins Award

The use of a very modern technology to teach the creation of a traditional product recently took top honours in Community Economic Development in a province-wide competition. The Frontenac Community Futures Development Corporation (CFDC) was recognized for its development of an iPad application “How to start a cheese-making business”.

“To start a cheese making business is a pretty complex and long process. And so we gathered that information together and developed the iPad application. We did this because we identified that there was an opportunity for new rural businesses in our communities,” says Anne Prichard, Executive Director of the Frontenac CFDC.

The Frontenac CFDC won the Award of Excellence at the Ontario Association of Community Futures Development Corporation’s Annual Conference, held in Sault Ste. Marie.  The Community Futures office, located in Harrowsmith, was given the prestigious award for the iPad App, the first time such technology has been honoured.  Award winners are selected based on how innovative the initiative is, how it impacts the community and local economy, and whether the concept can be successfully used by another CFDC in a different region.

Ms. Prichard explains that the Frontenac CFDC is a member of a unique economic development partnership with the counties of Hastings, Lennox & Addington and Prince Edward.  It’s objective is to help entrepreneurs who want to establish an artisanal food or beverage business.  This partnership began with the launch of an Invest in Cheese Initiative thanks to funding from the Frontenac CFDC, Trenval CFDC in Belleville, Prince Edward, Lennox & Addington (PELA) CFDC in Picton and North and Central Hastings and South Algonquin in Bancroft. .   Creation of the iPad app business tool followed the successful launch of this economic development thrust.

The first challenge was gathering all the necessary information for the creation of the app.  Information on cheese making using milk from various animals was researched, and then all the rules and regulations had to be collected.  “We were like an individual business looking for all that information and trying to compile it,” Ms. Prichard explains.

Once all the information was carefully researched, the next step was the actual creation of the app, and then it came time for people to learn about the existence of the app.  The CFDC soon got the word out.

“We’ve been fairly successful in getting that information out to individuals who would be interested. We have very active social media on our website with over 2200 people following us.  As well, we’ve had workshops where we’ve brought people in and they’ve come and seen the iPad – and worked right through the iPad application itself,” Ms. Prichard adds.   According to the iTunes store, more than 600 people have downloaded the app.

The app was developed to assist   people interested in establishing a cheese making business,  which in turn adds to growing list of locally produced foods. The Frontenac CFDC, with its county partners, have pooled their resources and are working together to develop and attract artisan food and beverage producers to the region.  Under the banner of Ontario’s Food and Beverage (FAB) region, this historic partnership is actively supporting and working to attract  other area cheese makers, wineries and breweries, as well as bakers, specialty condiment makers and a charcuterie (processor of specialty hams, sausages, patés and deli meats.)

“We are pleased to honour Frontenac Community Futures Development Corporation and their partners for their work in developing this Cheese making iPad App.  It shows how innovative they are in bringing technology into everyday use,” says Diana Jedig, Executive Director of the Ontario Association of Community Futures Development Corporations.

 

There are 61 Community Futures Development Corporations (CFDCs) across rural and Northern Ontario.  They offer free business counselling, loans for start-up and expansion of small business, strategic planning on local projects, and community economic development.  Each CFDC is locally managed by a volunteer board of directors, funded by Industry Canada’s Community Futures Program through FedNor in Northern Ontario, and FedDev Ontario in Southern Ontario. To learn more about Community Futures program in Ontario or the OACFDC, go to www.ontcfdc.com