Over 40 business owners, representatives from non-profit and community organizations, and entrepreneurs gathered in the Desjardins conference room on November 10 for the official launch of the new business association in Ormstown. The strong turnout reflects the perceived need within the municipality first voiced last April, when business owners gathered to discuss issues facing the local economy and the importance of banding together.
The meeting was led by the founding members, including Philippe Besombes, Suzanne Hutchinson, René Gauthier, and Catherine Paradis, who shared the mission and objectives of the organization: to promote the economic development of Ormstown through the support and promotion of business interests while improving the local quality of life.
Besombes outlined the objectives, suggesting the association’s main goal will be to increase business visibility while representing members at all levels of government. He says the group will organize networking activities and develop innovative ways to promote the products and services offered within the community, all while working together to find solutions to common problems such as labour shortages and uncertainty caused by a looming recession.
“We want to position Ormstown as the central municipality that it has always been,” Besombes said, noting a membership drive will soon be launched where people can join for an annual fee of $100. He explained there will be no employees and no means of providing direct services; however, the association will work as a reference centre to ensure area businesses get the help they need. The group has no political affiliation, and will promote partnerships and collaboration with different organizations, groups, and levels of government.
The launch was attended by Salaberry-Suroît MP Claude DeBellefeuille and Huntingdon MNA Carole Mallette, as well as Rejean Lampron, the regional economic coordinator for the MRC du Haut-Saint-Laurent, Ormstown mayor Christine McAleer, Franklin mayor Yves Métras, and Diane Maheu, a business counsellor with Services Quebec for this region.
DeBellefeuille, who has lived in Ormstown for over 30 years, addressed the room, suggesting there was nothing more powerful than group of like-minded people coming together. “We are just coming out of a difficult period and heading into another where working together becomes very important,” she said. “Without any hesitation, you can count on my collaboration!”
Mallette was equally optimistic. “A successful business does not happen without a network,” she said, noting the organization could play a role in breaking the isolation often felt by business owners and entrepreneurs. Her enthusiasm was echoed by Lampron and Maheu, who each spoke about the different services available.
The association will hold its first general assembly in February, where a board of directors will be formally elected, and specific objectives will be identified. A Facebook page will be created in the coming days that will include details on the association and how to become a member.