The Lake of the  Woods Economnic Development Commission's requesting an increase of just over $82,000 to fund their activities for 2012. The increase includes operating costs for the new Discovery Centre and Harbourfront tent, as well as staffing to support their work.

"Nothing in the budget -- that's in our plans -- isn't something that we've sat with council and developed together, do we feel it was our authority to cut," said Georgie McEwen, on behalf  of the commission. "Everything that's in the plan. Everything that's in the contracted services agreement. They're all things that we feel have the blessing of the city to go forward with.

Since 2007, the commission has grown from $500,000 to a $1.1 million annual operation.

During the discussion on their submission, Coun. Rory McMillan said offered words of support.

"I, as one councillor, see a continued need for the commission in our city, and it's just a matter of how we can support and move together and assist on partnerships," he said.

Minutes from the meeting read as follows:

Don Denver, Mort Goss, Geordie McEwen and Thelma Wilkins-Page, Board members, Heather Paterson, Tourism Development Officer and Carol Leduc, temporary assistant were present to present their submission to Council. Since 2007, the City of Kenora’s contribution to the Commission has increased year by year, and the amount of money the Commission is leveraging has increased exponentially. Growth from a $500,000 to a 1.1 million annual operation with revenue generation increased from 15% to 29% of actual operating budget since 2009. This trend is expected to continue with a Revenue Generation forecast of over 40% in 2012.
In 2011, under Education and Training highlights include:
• Finalizing Business Plan for the redevelopment of Lakewood School for post-secondary education and training in partnership with Confederation College, 7 Generations and other training delivery agents.
• The vision for the school includes an arts and culture presence similar to the Banff Centre model.
• The Lake of the Woods Centre Business Plan by the LOTWDC Board will be adopted December 21, 2011
Under Tourism:
• 85% increase in visitors to the Kenora Visitor Information Centres over the same period in 2010. (from 7,415 to 13,704)
• 4 Major Tourism Marketing Campaigns targeting Winnipeg, Southern Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta totaling $245,000
• Aggressive “Extended Summer” marketing campaign has proven to be the most successful to date, resulting in a reported increase of off-season sales as much as 40%
• US marketing campaign in partnership with Sioux Narrows and Nestor Falls
• Roger Brooks (June & December 2011)
• Tourism Kenora top 3 finalist with Ottawa & Toronto for best tourism advertising category at the Ontario Tourism Awards
• Increased Social Media Presence resulting in a significant number of inquiries via Facebook and Twitter
Special Events
• 1,500 attending Beach Boys Concert, of which 302 were from out of town (June 2011)
• 1,250 attending Harbourfront Tent Grand Opening, 441 from out of town (September 2011)
Combined economic impact of these 2 events alone estimated at well over $336,000
• 323 attending Lake of the Woods Discovery Centre Grand Opening (September 2011)
• 4,500 participants of the Winter Carnival (March 2011)

For the 2012 budget, the Commission plans to increase the staff by adding an Executive Clerk position to ensure the highest priority of the EDO is Business Attraction and Development. They also plan to add the Tourism Services Officer and Special Events Coordinator to full time permanent positions which are currently only on contracts that expire in 2012. There are incremental operating costs for Discovery Centre as well as the special events marketing. Under Business Development & Attraction they wish to introduce the initiation of sector-specific marketing campaigns, the completion of Sector Profiles for key economic sectors, re-launch of a more user-friendly website with site selector information, expand the new business welcome program, the Customer Service Business program, construction sector BR & E project (Jan – Mar 2012) and Follow-up to Treaty #3 Economic Development Conference. The Commission will continue the Development of Tunnel Island project opportunities. Under Education & Training, there will be continued work with 9 Education partners on expanding their operations as well as the implementation of Lake of the Woods Centre Business Plan. 
The Commission is requesting an increase of $82,143 to fund the proposed 2012 activity to prioritize Business Attraction and Development, as well as staffing.