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250th Edition

Economic Development eNews | January 9, 2024

Business Profile

Holiday Inn Express Team Always Goes The Extra Mile

GANANOQUE - The Holiday Inn Express & Suites 1000 Islands team knows the secret behind creating comfortable and memorable stays for their guests.

Dedicated staff even helped Santa Claus deliver gifts to families one Christmas Eve when many travelers sought shelter in Gananoque during a snowstorm that closed area highways and bridges.

"We had a full house and our team stepped up and made sure there were gifts for the kids," says Jeff Brown, who owns and operates the hotel along with his wife Courtney and his sons Colin, Sean and Graeme Brown.

"A hotel can be just a building but our team brings this one to life. That translates into good hospitality and means repeat customers," Jeff adds.

"There are a lot of great stories of people who come back, and when they do they stay longer," he says. "The great team here, the fantastic location and the wonderful repeat guests make this a very special place."

Both Jeff and his family attribute the site's successful ranking of being No. 1 in 10 local accommodations, and TripAdvisor ranking of 4.5 to the work and leadership of General Manager Sharon Hughes.

"It really is the staff here that makes it special," says Sharon, who has worked for the family for 18 years. "I believe that's why people keep coming back. It doesn't matter how nice the facility is if you don't have great people on staff."

One of the many highlights is the large social area where a hot and cold breakfast buffet is served. It is the community hub for the inn. There are also three large meeting rooms for conferences and special events.

Gananoque's Holiday Inn Express & Suites 1000 Islands was built in 2005 by Jeff and his late brother Gord Brown. After being in the hospitality business together since 1984, the brothers had a vision for the new Holiday Inn Express to meet growing demand in the heart of the 1000 Islands. Today, it remains the flagship hotel and the only Brown Hospitality Corporation site of three that is open year round.

The four-storey hotel has 61 rooms, including 11 suites. All rooms have microwave ovens and fridges. The 1000 Islands location offers an on-site business centre, indoor pool, sauna, fitness centre, concierge, and a courtyard where you can sit and relax.

Learn more about Holiday Inn Express & Suites 1000 Islands by visiting their website or call 1-888-861-8331.

The hotel is located at 777 King Street East, Gananoque, in the heart of the 1000 Islands. Make a reservation.

Top Feature Photo: Some members of the team from left to right: Kevin de Vos (Front Desk), Courtney Brown, Joanna Polenz (Housekeeping Manager), Graeme Brown, Sean Brown, Sharon Hughes (General Manager) and Jeff Brown.

Above photos: The hotel's front entrance, two angles of the breakfast area, a room and a suite complete with fireplace and jacuzzi.

eNews Milestone

Above: Capturing the first drone footage for the Counties back in 2014. Below: Taking photos for an eNews feature at a Rideau Lakes sugar bush in 2023.

Oh Snap - Deanna Clark is retiring!


This is a milestone edition of eNews and also a farewell from the person who spearheaded it since its launch in 2014.

All 250 editions of the eNewsletter have been prepared thoughtfully and carefully by Deanna Clark, Counties Economic Development Officer. 

“As she starts her new adventures into retirement, I’m sure her passion for photography and writing will not stop here,” says Ann Weir, Economic Development Manager.  

After 25 years with the Brockville Recorder and Times, Deanna brought her knowledge and expertise in journalism and photography to the Leeds Grenville Economic Development Office in May 2010.  At the time, the Counties was just completing new brand development so Deanna’s start at the Office was perfect as she went right to work developing an inventory of photos and new promotional materials for the region.


During her near 14 years at the Counties, Deanna has been instrumental in the creation of the business eNewsletter, along with supporting the development of several promotional videos, numerous articles and publications and the Economic Development website. Deanna has taken 1000s of photos across the region and interviewed 100s of business owners. She has played a key role in the coordination of the Bill Thake Award for Economic Development Leadership since its 2011 launch.

“Deanna is leaving the Economic Development Office after building a strong foundation of promotional tools and an amazing inventory of photography from throughout Leeds Grenville,” says Ann.  

“She will be missed by her colleagues and the many friends she has made along the way in producing the bi-weekly Economic Development eNewsletter.” 


Deanna’s official last day will be Friday, January 26th and she can be reached until then via email.


Congratulations and Enjoy Your Retirement Deanna!

Leeds Grenville Economic Development eNews has showcased close to 300 businesses, business award presentations, groundbreakings and openings since it began publication in June 2014.

The online newsletter has helped raise awareness of the services and products grown an manufactured in Leeds Grenville. Learn more, see previous editions or subscribe by visiting our eNews webpage.

Digital Services

$2,500 Digital Grant Program Opens for Limited Intake


A limited number of $2,500 grants will be made available through the Digital Main Street Program. The Digital Transformation Grant is being offered to brick-and-mortar small businesses beginning January 10, with the opportunity to access these funds to upgrade their digital presence. Businesses already in the grant process can simply pick up where they left off. If you are new to the program, create your account here or contact your local Digital Support Specialist to learn more. Funds will be available until January 31st, or until exhausted, whichever comes first.


This grant program is focused on assisting small businesses with their adoption of technologies. The program provides training, advisory support and grants to businesses looking to increase their capacity through digital adoption.

Past recipients used the funds to upgrade the following:

  • Digital Marketing - hiring a consultant/agency/person to execute Digital Marketing initiatives
  • Website - development of a new site or redesign to improve the existing website
  • Software - graphic design, productivity, social media software, security and more
  • Digital Training - ongoing digital training courses (in-person and online)
  • Hardware (maximum $1,000) - must be hardware deemed necessary (at the discretion of OBIAA).


Reach out to Digital Specialist Cyndy Bolton today via phone (613-342-3840 x 5368) or email to begin your application.

Upcoming Event

Save the Date to Celebrate

Leeds Grenville Small Business and the Small Business Advisory Centre (Smiths Falls/Lanark County/north Leeds Grenville) invite you to be a part of their annual International Women's Day Celebration. For over a decade, they have been actively celebrating the achievements of women, raising awareness about discrimination, and highlighting female entrepreneurs in our community.


This year promises to be their most powerful celebration yet, featuring a dynamic panel of four inspiring businesswomen. They include Nicole Hudson, co-owner of Katarina's Coffee Shop in Prescott, Erin Kergen, owner of Pickle & Myrrh in Merrickville, Stacey Blair, owner of The Pie Bar in Westport, and Sherri Stobo, owner of SMS Home Rentals and Services in Brockville. They will share their expertise on the importance of "Collaboration and Creativity," the theme of the event.

There will be a Business Showcase with 15 vendor tables, presentation of the Lifetime Achievement Award, food, door prizes, and more.

WHEN: Thursday, March 7 from 3:30 to 9 p.m.

WHERE: North Grenville Municipal Centre, Kemptville

Stay tuned for complete details about the event and how to register.

Funding Opportunities

Eastern Ontario Development Fund - Still Time to Apply

Ontario is now accepting new applications for the Eastern Ontario Development Fund. Applications will be accepted until January 25, 2024. Registration on the Ministry site and consulting with a Ministry Advisor should occur by Thursday, January 11, 2024. The program supports business growth in Eastern Ontario by providing support to eligible small- and medium-sized businesses investing in new equipment and training to expand operations in these regions. Applicants are eligible to receive financial support and advisory services to help navigate government programs, such as guidance on compliance approvals, assistance with skills and talent.


Business Project Eligibility Requirements:

  •  Have at least 3 years of operations/financial statements
  • Employ at least 10 people (or five if located in rural Ontario)
  • Commit to creating at least five new jobs (or a 30% increase for companies with fewer than 15 employees)
  • Invest at least $500,000 in a project (or $200,000 if located in rural Ontario)
Visit the Website

New Tourism Growth Funding from FedDev Ontario

Tourism businesses and organizations across southern Ontario and Canada offer a variety of exciting new experiences to visitors. They can now enhance those experiences with funding from the new Tourism Growth Program for activities happening before March 2024. Watch for the next intake opening summer 2024.

Eligible applicants include:

  • incorporated small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) operating in the tourism industry
  • Indigenous-owned businesses (including Indigenous sole proprietors) or Indigenous tourism organizations
  • not-for-profit organizations (including tourism associations and economic development organizations)
  • governments (municipal/provincial/territorial and related entities)

Eligible projects should provide added value to existing activities in the tourism industry and focus on business and economic growth. Priority may be given to projects that:

  • support the Indigenous tourism industry
  • increase tourism benefits for communities by driving visitation from urban areas to rural areas
  • support economic, environmental and cultural sustainability
  • support active outdoor experiences
  • extend the tourism season (e.g., new or expanded tourism offerings outside of the traditional high season)
  • complement support provided through provincial programs

Applications are being accepted until February 29, 2024, 8:59 p.m. EST

Learn more

Festivals and Events Experience Ontario Program - Deadline Thursday, January 11

Ontario is investing $19.5-million to provide funding to eligible in-person festivals and events taking place between April 1, 2024 and March 31, 2025.

Applications are being accepted until January 11, 2024.

The Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport (MTCS) supports destination and product development and investment in Ontario’s tourism industry. Experience Ontario 2024 provides support for festivals and events, with a tourism economic impact, to motivate visitors to discover Ontario, connect people with local experiences, and increase tourism spending.

Program Objectives support in-person festivals or events in Ontario that will:

  • Offer programming that encourages people to travel, experience events in-person and celebrate Ontario.
  • Draw tourists and increase visitor spending through innovative programming in partnership with businesses and community partners.
  • Provide job opportunities for Ontarians in the tourism, culture, and entertainment sectors.
  • Increase Ontario’s profile through various media channels. 

Regional Tourism Advisors are available to assist with questions about the application process.

Learn more or to apply

Business Consultations

Advisory Sessions Being Held in Westport

The Small Business Advisory Centre will be in Westport at the Town Hall on January 26. 

When starting and running your own business, you have many questions and concerns. Book some in-person time with the Centre while they are in your community.

Free 45-minutes to one-hour consultations will be available so that you can meet with them about your start up or your existing small business. Get answers to the questions that you have and get direction on your next steps to take.

WHEN: Friday, January 26, 8:30 a.m. to noon

WHERE: Westport Town Hall, 30 Bedford Street

To book a business advisory meeting on this day (pre-booking is a must as time slots fill up quickly) contact the Small Business Advisory Centre @ cjames@smallbizcentre.ca or call us @ 613-283-0062

Workshops, Seminars and Webinar Library

Security in Destination Development: What to Consider

This webinar hosted by the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario (TIAO) will present key considerations for security planning, risk management and successful initiatives. Take advantage of this opportunity to learn best practices for ensuring the safety and resilience of your destination, fostering sustainable growth in tourism development.

There will be a panel of four knowledgeable speakers. They include Andrew Siegwart, President and CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario; Krista LeClair, Executive Director of the Kingston Accommodations Partners; Natalie Savage, Founder of The Planner, Conference & Event Management Inc.; and Dillon Fremlin, Director of Emergency Services & Risk at Blue Mountain Resorts.

WHEN: Monday, January 15, 2-3 p.m.

COST: Free

Learn more or register

Indigenous Communities - Partnerships & Paths

Join RTO 9 and Indigenous Tourism Ontario (ITO) for this webinar open to tourism operators eager to learn about the beautiful cultures of Indigenous communities and take a step forward in your understanding of how everyone can work together in the spirt of reciprocity to support the growth of responsible tourism. This toolkit is designed for any person or organization that would like to gain more knowledge about partnering with Indigenous tourism in Ontario in a meaningful and respectful way. The speaker is Scott Mercs, who has 30 years of management experience in the hospitality industry, with stops from Vancouver Island to Nanavut. Recently, Scott was an economic development manager for Hiawatha First Nation, had a hotel management contract with The Gwasala Nak'waxda First Nation, and was a resort general manager for the Kwakiutl First Nation.

WHEN: Friday, January 16, 10 a.m. to 12 noon.

COST: Free

Learn more or register

Insights for Success - A Small Business Event

Learn from our area's leading professionals in Finance, Business Planning, and Technology. With a goal to promote new thinking and inspire action, and an opportunity for networking with like-minded professionals. Speakers include:

  • Daren Givogue: O'Farrell Financial
  • Sarah Chisholm: Business Owner, Exit Strategies
  • Darren Gallacher & Candace Fox: Good Business Debt & Business Loans
  • Kevin Savoy: Recession Proofing Your Business
  • Fraser Hardy: Artificial Intelligence (AI) for Small Business
  • David Annable: Program Update, Looking to 2024

WHEN: Thursday, January 18, 5:30-9 p.m.

WHERE: The Aquatarium at Tall Ships Landing, Broad Street, Brockville

COST: $45 for members; $50 for non-members

Learn more or register

Ivy Charging Network - EV ChargeON Program

Back by popular demand - join the upcoming Forward Motion Seminar to learn how you can apply for provincial funding and add EV charging to your business. Applications are now open for Ontario’s EV ChargeON Program. This provincially-funded program looks to support charging station projects across the vast majority of Ontario’s municipalities.

This program will support 50% of total project costs up to a maximum of $1,000,000 per site. Eligible charging sites must meet a few requirements, including being accessible 24/7 and being located in a community with a population of 170,000 or less.

WHEN: Thursday, January 18, 2-3 p.m. (online webinar)

COST: Free

To register

Mastering Time Management

This workshop hosted by the Small Business Advisory Centre (Smiths Falls/Lanark County/north Leeds Grenville) features facilitator Carey McMaster, of TRAICON. Unlock the secret to unparalleled productivity and efficiency. Effective time management is the cornerstone of personal and professional success. Discover proven strategies, tools, and mindset shifts that will empower you to take control of your time, prioritize effectively, and achieve your goals with precision.

In this webinar participants will:

  • Learn fundamental principles of effective time management
  • Discover a range of tools and techniques to streamline your workflow
  • Gain insights into categorizing tasks based on urgency and importance
  • Learn strategies to overcome procrastination and boost productivity
  • Develop actionable plans that align with your priorities
  • Strategies for maintaining a healthy work-life balance

WHEN: Monday, January 22, 9:30-11 a.m.

COST: Free

Learn more or register

Not-For-Profit Act:

What's New

Join RTO 9 and Rose Mercier, a senior consultant and partner and the Governance Coach, for an in-depth look at the amendments made to the Ontario Not-For-Profit Act (ONCA). Rose has 27 years of experience in organizational transition and leadership development.

Learn what your non-profit organization needs to be doing to be in alignment with the new act and how to make sure your organization remains compliant!

WHEN: Tuesday, January 23, 10 a.m. to 12 Noon

COST: Free

Learn more or register

Marketing Mastery with ByNan

In a world where every marketing dollar counts, the key to unlocking unparalleled success lies in turning your marketing initiatives into powerful investments.

Join the North Grenville Chamber for an exclusive and comprehensive workshop where Kevin Savoy, of ByNan Solutions, unveils the precise roadmap to navigate the dynamic landscape of marketing, ensuring that every move you make propels you toward success.

You will receive step-by-step guidance, insider insights, and actionable strategies that will empower you to elevate your marketing game.

WHEN: Wednesday, January 24, 5:30-7 p.m.

WHERE: Grenville Mutual Insurance, Kemptville

COST: Chamber members $30 or 4 workshops for $100; Non-Chamber members $40 or 4 workshops for $140

RSVP: Info@northgrenvillechamber.com 

To register

Road Map to Simple Safety Solutions Workshop

Keeping your team and customers safe at work is good for business. Join this workshop presented by Workplace Safety and Prevention Services (WSPS) and the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) for small- and medium-sized businesses with multiple employees.

Learn about simple safety solutions for the workplace, to ensure that everyone returns home safe at the end of the day and how you can boost your bottom line by earning rebates on your WSIB premiums.

Don't miss this chance to boost workplace safety!

WHEN: Tuesday, February 6, 12-1 p.m.

COST: Free

To register

Social Media: A Beginner's 101 Virtual Workshop

Are you ready to embark on a journey into the dynamic world of social media? Join our immersive and engaging virtual workshop designed exclusively for beginners where you'll discover the essential tools and strategies to navigate the ever-evolving landscape of digital connectivity. The workshop is hosted by Leeds Grenville Small Business.

WHEN: Thursday, February 8, 12-1 p.m. via Zoom

COST: Free

PRESENTER: Cyndy Bolton, Digital Services Specialist, United Counties of Leeds and Grenville

To register

Leeds Grenville eNews Deadlines for submitting information:

If you have an upcoming workshop, seminar, or business-related event, please email it to us in advance.

  • Submissions for January 23rd edition should be received by Monday, January 15th.
  • Submissions for the February 6th edition should be received by January 29th.
Subscribe to our eNewsletter

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32 Wall Street, Suite 300, Brockville, ON K6V 4R9

613-342-3840 | 1-800-770-2170 | econdev@uclg.on.ca