SD&G business properties ‘falling short’ with potential investors

In this July 2015, file photo, the Nestle Canada plant in Chesterville, Ont. sits vacant. The commercial property is now home to a furniture assembly and installation company. County council has been told a lot of its commercial properties are falling short when it comes to pitching them to outside investors. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

SD&G – The economic development head for SD&G says a lot of the commercial property stock in the United Counties is “falling short” with potential investors looking to come here.

“A lot of our properties are falling short. A lot of the larger scale investors want some site planning – this is something they always look at. The size of the property, the age of the property, the ceiling height, the height of the doors, the closeness to the distribution channels,” Terry Besner said in an economic development update to county council Tuesday.

“A lot of those (buildings) are falling short when the larger entities come in from Ontario East (Economic Development). We don’t even make the mark…without investment into those properties,” Terry Besner said.

The economic development department has made vacant properties and data sheets available on the county’s website and when they get leads from Ontario East Economic Development they follow up on those, Besner said.

While economic development has been promoting what SD&G has to offer as far a tourism, Coun. Ian McLeod questioned what the county was doing with existing business and their needs.

Besner says there’s a “business visitation schedule” in place and the county is working with economic development officers in each of the six lower-tier SD&G municipalities.

“We will be targeting down the road, specifically to site selectors or investors from outside the area, once we do a little bit of that target market information research,” Besner said.

Defending the work the department is already doing, Coun. Eric Duncan said the problem is a regional EDO trying to place vacant municipal properties. “Our local EDOs are on the ground and are more connected,” he said.

Duncan described networking meetings, like the North Dundas Wine and Cheese with over 200 people in attendance, as a small investment and a perfect venue to woo potential investors to the area.

“The couple hundred bucks it cost us, we got three or four or five (business) leads that night, from everything,” Duncan said, in suggesting a negligible amount of money should be included in the 2018 budget for networking events.