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Funding helps bring Fern Resort back from 'the point of no return’

FedDev Ontario has provided $10 million in funding to Bruce, Grey and Simcoe county businesses since May

The federal government has been doling out dollars to struggling businesses since May, and as part of a media announcement on Friday, they shared stories of Simcoe County businesses that have benefited.

According to a news release sent out by FedDev Ontario, nearly 280 Bruce, Grey and Simcoe county businesses and organizations have received more than $10 million through the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF) to help weather the impacts of COVID-19 as part of the federal Economic Response Plan. The funding has protected about 1,200 jobs in the region.


Mark Downing, owner of Fern Resort in Ramara Township, spoke about the difference the funding made to reopening his 125-year-old business.

“We were at the point of no return,” said Downing. “We proceeded with blind faith that the resort would open for the summer as the alternative was impossible to contemplate.”

Downing talked about the stress leading up to the summer season for the resort.

“For months, we had been turning hundreds of thousands of dollars of business away as there was a real chance we would not open,” he said. “When we were approved for (funding) through the RRRF, we were ecstatic. With the assistance of this loan, we were able to stay true to our core values.”

A success story shared during Friday’s announcement came from Black Bellows Brewing Co. in Collingwood, which opened its doors in January 2020.

“When the pandemic hit, we had to make a tough decision to lay off the entire staff and take it back to us three owners. We pivoted to selling beer online through local deliveries that kept us really busy,” said co-owner Bryn Davies.

“The RRRF really helped us when we were reopening our doors in July. The funding put things back on track for us financially and (made us) feel comfortable bringing staff back,” he said.

Since the launch of the RRRF in May, FedDev Ontario has provided delivered $184 million in additional funding across southern Ontario, and has extended and expanded eligibility criteria to help those still in need of support.

“Thanks to this crucial support, we are helping to keep this region strong and well positioned for economic recovery,” said Kate Young, parliamentary secretary to the minister of economic development and official languages.

Jessica Owen

About the Author: Jessica Owen

Jessica Owen brings 11 years of experience to her role as regional reporter for Village Media, primarily covering County of Simcoe matters, education and features
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