Chamber hopes to excavate market potential in Mount Forest ‘Big Dig’

Busi­ness owners in Mount Forest are not ready to make a mountain out of a molehill – but they are hoping to use a Big Dig in Mount Forest to attract business to town.

But soon others will get to see the “hole” truth as the main street will be ripped up, not just curb-to-curb – but wall to wall.

Economic development com­mittee member Ron For­rest quipped that he needed to cross the floor like the federal caucus to speak on behalf of the Mount Forest Chamber of Commerce.

He said the chamber wants to promote the “Big Dig” through advertising.

Forrest hopes that promotion will make people aware of detours through town and provide assistance in helping find back doors to main street businesses.

He said there is a commitment to cover the costs of that promotion, bit he said there might be a small cost for the advertising and additional signs. The main thing, he said, is to get the message out.

“There’s been a lot of calls about this – not many of them positive.”

Yet, he said chamber members believe if everyone puts their heads together, they might manage to make it a marketable feature for the community.

He stressed that the chamber is not picking up costs incurred by local businesses, such as hookup costs or for lost business because of the street reconstruction.

The chamber’s intent is to promote the heck out of the “Big Dig” in a positive way.

Paul Bowers, of the Ontario Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Rural Affairs, who was at the economic development meeting to discuss downtown revitalization, spoke briefly on the experience in Owen Sound which, in recent years, went through a similar experience.

The city, Bowers said, had quite a good strategy and was comparatively successful in deal­ing with its own “Big Dig.”

The key, he said, was communication with business owners and the public. There were also considerable signs on how to reach back doors of local busi­nesses.

One thing merchants will need to do, he said, is to make every effort to make certain the back door of the businesses accessible. Another is to promote the dig as an event and invite residents and potential customers to have a look at how the work is progressing.

He said the city worked closely with its BIA and contractor to ensure no business sec­tion was closed off longer than necessary.