Haliburton County to hire consultant for economic development strategy 

By Stephen Petrick
Haliburton County plans to hire a consultant to work on an economic development strategy.
It’s a project that would involve interviewing community members and gathering data to ensure business in the region will grow.

A report to county council by new economic development and tourism director Scott Ovell seemed to excite councillors at the Jan. 12 meeting, held virtually. Council approved the report, which asked that a request for proposal be sent out to interested consulting firms. The cost for the contract could range between $30,000 and $50,000.
“I’m ecstatic. This can’t happen soon enough,” Minden Hills Mayor Brent Devolin said.
Highlands East Deputy Mayor Cecil Ryall said “this is an awesome attitude here” and asked that the work put a focus on solving the problem of a shortage of skilled labour in the area. 
The RFP would ask the winning firm to have its people attend meetings with a steering committee, prepare and facilitate an online survey to collect public input and host six industry roundtables with economic development leaders.
It would also ask the consultant to “ document, analyze, summarize and prepare recommendations based on input collected through the consultation process.”

The firm would also be asked to meet certain “deliverables” including “creating a vision for economic development,” establishing strategic priorities and drafting a five-year economic development department budget.
Ovell’s report sparked discussion about the need for Haliburton County to find new ways to provide jobs and more education opportunities for its citizens, as well as better housing options.
Ovell said the point of the plan is to look at “big picture ideas” and see “what tools are in our tool box” to address business concerns, including what different groups the county can partner with.