Established in the 1950s, the Renfrew Industrial Commission (RIC) took a giant leap forward in 1992 when the Ontario Government injected $2.45 million into the community. The goal of this unique program was to refill vacant plants, stimulate existing businesses and attract new ones to the area. The program turned out to be a resounding success and has had a ripple effect over the last 20 years.
In a further effort to remain current with technology and market trends, in 1998 the RIC developed and implemented a strategic growth plan for Renfrew. With Norm Anderson at the helm, the goals set forth included focusing on hi-tech industries as well as retirees looking at relocating to a quieter setting outside the capital. This was viewed as the best way to stimulate the economy and increase the town’s population.
A key ingredient of the plan was to develop an informative website designed to be as comprehensive as budgets would allow. Secondary initiatives included advertising in various print media in the Ottawa area that were geared towards the seniors’ market. Once again things went well. The website generated over 300 visitors a week and the town received 12 – 15 enquiries a month from people interested in moving to Renfrew.
The economy took a hit in 2008 – 2009 and Renfrew had its share of bumps and bruises along with the rest of the country. Nevertheless, the RIC stood firm and continues to be proactive. After years of service, Norm Anderson stepped down in 2010 and was replaced by Dave Lemke as the Executive Director of the RIC.
The Commission’s strategic goal remains to increase growth in Renfrew by way of all-season tourism, affordable housing for retirees and young families, drawing more retailers, and remaining a competitive choice for manufacturers. Renfrew is on its way to becoming a flourishing bedroom community with small-town flair that’s always open for new business.