Many small towns, including ours, have experienced some population loss, which can be seen in our downtowns and schools. Small towns have slowly eroded over many years and decades due to the loss of family farms and migration to cities. Small towns like ours, on the other hand, have a chance to improve their fortunes thanks to Economic Development Initiatives proposed by local Economic Development Committees (EDC) guided by experienced Economic Development Officer.
Gull Lake's fortunes have already improved with the opening of the Prairie Handmade Shop and the soon-to-open Yellow Canary Books & Stationery. Spring and summertime downtown markets have helped to attract people to the downtown. The new Wong Guy Shoe Shop exterior, another step toward restoring the heritage property, added a positive look to the downtown. The new roof and announcement of recent heating system upgrades at the Elks Hall are also positives for the community and downtown.
The committee has also brought together local businesses for collaborative discussions, which has not happened in a long time. The Gull Lake Business Connection Facebook Page provides vital ideas and information to local businesses. The EDC also held meetings to kickstart growth opportunities in the Gull Lake area. This year's community and business promotional videos and photos are powerful tools that local businesses can use on their websites and social media accounts.
The committee's accomplishments are impressive, but we still have a long way to go. A lack of accommodations, as well as a lack of commercial/industrial lots, vacant buildings, and vacant lots in downtown, remain significant challenges. Economic development initiatives and planning will pave the way forward for us to meet these challenges. For the Economic Development Committees to have the greatest impact, it needs the support of both urban and rural municipal governments, as well as local businesses and residents. By pooling our resources as a community, we will be able to assist the committee in developing and implementing important initiatives that will turn around our communities economic fortunes.
Things have started to change but we still have a ways to go and it will take time to turn things around. Economic Development planning and initiatives will assist us in overcoming the challenges we face today and advancing our community into the future.