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Economic Development eNews | October 6, 2020
Business Profile
Top feature photo: Potter Jann Smith in the Riverbank Pottery Studio - On the St. Lawrence River.
Above photo: Renza Pelkey at work. Below: Mary Mansworth.
Passionate potters create Riverbank Pottery Studio
BROCKVILLE - Five area women are turning a favourite pastime into a growing business.

Sue Steele, Renza Pelkey, Rina Kolbe, Jann Smith and Mary Mansworth are passionate potters who can now call themselves accidental business owners. It all started a year ago when they opened a downtown storefront - Riverbank Pottery Studio - to see if they could sell some of their creations.

Initially the focus was on having a studio space for their collective artistic expression, not on becoming business moguls with growing online sales.

"It has really opened our eyes as to how much people want our work," says Renza, adding they'd previously shared a work space but didn't sell a lot. They wanted to try having a "storefront" but believed it would be slow going and weren't sure how good they'd be at promoting themselves.

"We didn't expect to be as successful as we are and to develop such a large and loyal following," says Sue.

You also wouldn't think starting a business just months before the declaration of a world pandemic would spell success for the potters. However, and because they have had an online presence along with a pick-up service from the very beginning, they've not only survived the first months of the shutdown but have begun to flourish.

"People would walk past our window display during their walks and stop to see what we'd recently made. They told us it was a highlight for them," says Sue.

"This really is our accidental business so what a nice surprise to see so much interest," says Jann, who has a blast decorating the window to attract attention.

Sales started to climb in April and May and were consistent throughout the summer months. They still feel they haven't peaked in sales. "We've never experienced a summer with normal (non-pandemic) tourism but sales were still excellent," says Renza.

Another plus for their business is they feel people are looking for special things, locally made, and in particular items for the kitchen because more people are at home. One decorative platter sold within 30 minutes of being posted online.

The potters are involved in helping in the community and recently raised $1,600 with Mugs for Mutts to benefit the Leeds Grenville OSPCA. They will be participating the Art in the Yard Pop Up Show & Sale this Thanksgiving Saturday, October 10.

Learn more about the Riverbank Pottery Studio by visiting their Instagram and Facebook pages or their website where you can shop online and pay via eTransfer. Special orders are welcomed. The shop, which has varied hours, is located at 22 King Street East.
From left to right: OBIAA Executive Director Kay Matthews (also shown below); Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes MP Michael Barrett; United Counties of Leeds and Grenville CAO Andy Brown; Leeds Grenville Warden Pat Sayeau and MPP Steve Clark at the announcement on September 25th.
Funds to help small business go digital, access online market

SPENCERVILLE – Thirteen Leeds Grenville municipalities have collaborated with the leadership of the United Counties Economic Development Office to receive a $127,345 Digital Main Street (DMS) grant to fund Digital Service Squads.

The squads will help 533 small main street businesses across the region free of charge to improve their online capabilities. Funding for the grant is provided by FedDev Ontario, a federal program, and the Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade (MEDJCT).

"Leeds Grenville is excited to have five Digital Service Squads working across the region," said Warden Pat Sayeau. "With the emergence of COVID-19, providing options for our local business community to remain sustainable during this economic crisis is more important than ever."

"Our small businesses are the very foundation of what makes Leeds Grenville a great place to live. By
being able to offer our small main street businesses free one-on-one assistance, we are giving them the ability to gain the necessary resources to grow their online presence and stay competitive in today's digital world," the Warden said.

Kay Matthews, executive director of the Ontario Business Improvement Area Association, announced the funding. "We know businesses that participated in Digital Main Street last year were better able to cope when the pandemic hit. We're excited that FedDev Ontario and MEDJCT are providing the funding to extend this important program to help businesses across Leeds Grenville," she said.

Squad funding breakdown:
  • United Counties - $32,500 - serving 130 businesses (in Athens, Elizabethtown-Kitley, Front of Yonge, Merrickville-Wolford, Rideau Lakes and Westport)
  • North Grenville - $19,095 - serving 100 businesses
  • Leeds and the Thousand Islands / Gananoque - $20,000 - serving 80 businesses
  • Prescott / Augusta / Edwardsburgh Cardinal - $25,750 - serving 103 businesses
  • Brockville - $30,000 - serving 120 businesses

The squads will be visiting main street small businesses in the towns, villages and hamlets across the region. For details on the Leeds Grenville programs, visit investleedsgrenville.com/digitalmainstreet.
Join the Rideau Lakes Business Network in their monthly virtual meeting. The upcoming session features guest speaker Shelbi McFarlane, Business Development Officer for the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville, who will provide information on the Digital Service Squads (DSS). It is a free digital resource to help you grow your business by adopting and implementing digital tools and technologies.

WHEN: Tuesday, October 20, 7 p.m.

Get in touch through their Facebook group or email Gary Petro and Ken Davies for more information.
Workshops, Seminars and Webinar Library
Re-opening Ontario: What you need to know about Health, Safety and Employment Standards

This is an online information session to help you understand your employment standards and occupational health and safety rights and obligations as they relate to COVID-19. The session will be delivered by subject-matter experts from the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development. Speakers include Ron Landry, senior manager of Provincial Industrial Health and Safety, and Chantal Gubinczki-Young, Employment Standards Officer, followed by a 30-minute Q&A session. It is hosted by the Small Business Advisory Centre

WHEN: Thursday, October 8,
10 a.m. to 12 p.m., followed by the Q&A
COST: Free

For more information email or call 613-283-7002, ext. 108.

The Leeds Grenville Small Business Enterprise Centre will host this webinar as well.

WHEN: Friday, October 23, 10 a.m. to 12 noon, followed by a Q&A
COST: Free

Recover, Restart & Rebound

For Businesses in the Town of Gananoque or Township of Leeds and the Thousand Islands - this is the first of four working and learning sessions online through Zoom. The first is "It's Time to Recover, Restart and Rebound!" which will help to refresh your business plan. This will deliver more insights about your customer, how you will make money, what you are offering, and community collaborations. It will help you revisit and define the important aspects of your business and align your goals to activities.

WHEN: Thursday, October 22, 9-11 a.m.
COST: Free

Webinar 2 - The New COVID-19 Normal: Tuesday, November 3, 9-11 a.m.
Webinar 3 - Understanding Your Cash Flow: Tuesday, November 10, 9-11 a.m.
Webinar 4 - Relevant Advertising and Promotion: Tuesday, November 17, 9-11 a.m.

You can sign up for all four sessions or individual webinars. Sessions are hands-on with takeaways you can apply instantly to your operations. Be prepared to complete different task sheets and activities.

For more information, email Laura Godard, Town of Gananoque, or call 613-382-2149, ext. 1131.

The Ontario East Municipal Conference

Established in 1989, the Ontario East Municipal Conference (OEMC) has developed into the largest annual regional municipal conference east of Toronto. The Ontario East Economic Development Commission has delivered dynamic programming to share municipal knowledge and best practices.

Topics will be offered in 4 different streams:
  • Community Development
  • Municipal
  • Workforce
  • Economic Development

WHEN: Wednesday, October 21 to Thursday, October 22
COST: Full Virtual Conference $289. One-day Virtual Conference $150.

Eastern Workforce Innovation Board hosting "Three on Thursday" Employer Webinar Series

The first webinar is Mental Health in the Workplace with guest speaker Jack Veitch, manager of Community Engagement and Education with the Canadian Mental Health Association. Participants will learn the difference between mental health and mental illness; how to better recognize the signs of mental distress in an employee as well as simple verbal de-escalation and communication techniques. Develop strategies to address a staff member that may be distraught, agitated or aggressive. Simple tips on redirecting to
appropriate resources will be explored. The webinar will touch on mental health accommodation as well as
successful approaches for staff returning to work during COVID-19. Lastly, a simple review of available community supports and referral strategies will be shared. Eastern Workforce Innovation sessions follow in November and January.

WHEN: Thursday, October 22, 10 - 11 a.m.
COST: Free

Tourism Industry Association of Ontario (TIAO) hosting virtual summit

The Ontario Tourism Summit 2020 will help to provide opportunities for revenue growth, support local and celebrate excellence. Right from the beginning of this crisis, the industry has come together and proven how tourism is integral to the economic recovery of Ontario.

Summit organizers will share the best practices and tools from every part of the industry that will benefit your business now and during the recovery period. Despite severe hardships that many of you have had and are currently experiencing, TIAO won't allow COVID-19 to define its future. Listen to global strategies, accommodation leaders, regional / community / municipality collaborative successes and see how innovation has risen in spite of the pandemic.

WHEN: Tuesday, October 27 to Wednesday, October 28
COST: Price range from small business to organization (10 people)

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 the October 20th edition should be received by Friday, October 9th.
  • Submissions for the November 3rd edition should be received by Monday, October 26th.
COVID-19 Business Updates
Continue to follow www.investleedsgrenville.com/covid19 for the latest information on financial support, health and safety, surveys along with the business news on COVID-19.
For business assistance call 613-342-3840 ext. 5365 or email.
32 Wall Street, Suite 300, Brockville, ON K6V 4R9
613-342-3840 | 1-800-770-2170 | econdev@uclg.on.ca