Cornwall rebounds in 2021 despite workforce struggles: Year In Review

Cornwall Economic Development Division Manager Bob Peters delivers the Year In Review during a virtual event on Thursday, Dec. 16, 2021. Peters says many sectors are on the rebound but are challenged in finding workers. (City of Cornwall/Zoom via Newswatch Group)

CORNWALL – While Cornwall has “strong foundations for growth,” filling positions in the local workforce and housing those workers continue to be major issues.

Cornwall Economic Development Division Manager Bob Peters relayed that message Thursday morning during a Year In Review event, which was held virtually for a second year due to the pandemic.

Despite the health and safety issues, Peters says there was actually some growth in the hard-hit sectors of tourism, restaurants and small business as well as key sectors or food processing and logistics.

“As our companies grew, workforce and recruiting skilled workers, and unskilled workers quite frankly to the region, to fill those jobs have become a significant issue. And then a companion issue perhaps is the lack or availability of affordable housing as people move into the region,” Peters says.

While census numbers won’t come out until the new year, Peters believes the population is increasing and investors are looking to put their money in Cornwall, while industrial vacancy rates are at an all-time low and demand is up for land in the Cornwall Business Park.

“I can’t remember another year where we’ve had people willing to invest in Cornwall, more companies making serious inquiries and we anticipate that will continue throughout 2022.”

Peters also highlighted developments in the institutional, industrial, residential, tourism and commercial activity.

The city is poised to reach $96 million in building permits this year, despite the high cost of building materials and supply chain issues. “To see such a high number for building permits in that period of stress is a positive number.”

There were 257 homes built this year – a 78 per cent increase over 2021 – and the average selling price was $354,000.

In tourism, the city saw around 100,000 room nights at local hotels and motels. Just over a quarter of those staying were first time visitors to the Seaway City.

The Year In Review presentation proved to be popular with the Zoom event maxing out capacity at 100 participants.