‘Robust and comprehensive’ marketing plan unveiled for Town of Perth

Town of Perth
The Town of Perth is attracting newcomers and a recent marketing plan was unveiled to steer the process during a regular committee meeting on May 7, 2024. Photo credit: Laurie Weir.
Posted on: May 8, 2024

Gaps in childcare and housing should be addressed first: Study


Selling Perth to newcomers has been tasked to a marketing and readiness team, KBL Consulting and Tante Consulting. 

During a regular committee of the whole meeting on May 7, Pat Robitaille, manager of tourism, arts and culture, KBL Consulting and Tante Consulting, shared their plan to help the Town of Perth attract newcomers. 

“Looking at the economic development master plan, it was action three in promoting Perth that was relevant to our project,” Robitaille said. 

The objective of the marketing plan is to attract new residents, businesses and investments, he said, as well as facilitate community growth, and build brand equity.

“We look at local economy, and we look at community strengths,” he said. “We look at growth and development challenges, desired town image, ideal residents and visitors, contributors to growth and effective strategies.”

A big part, he said, is feedback from the community. 

The project involved conversations with the Perth and District Chamber of Commerce, the Downtown Heritage Perth Business Improvement Area, Local Immigration Partnership, Algonquin College and town staff and councillors. 

What are people saying about Perth? 

Town of Perth
Photo credit: Laurie Weir.

It’s diverse, authentic and charming, community-centred, sustainable and inclusive. Perth has small-town appeal with safety and closeness. There is a desire for more activities and services, especially in the evening and on weekends. There is a call for greater diversity in amenities and cultural representation, and there is a need for more housing and daycare options. 

“Based on the conversations, we started to get a clear idea of target segments and who we are trying to reach with this plan,” Robitaille said, and how the town can reach these audiences to help bolster economic activity in the area and achieve the goals they’re looking at. 

The plan will look at families (schools, parks, events, safety), newcomers (potential for inclusivity, support services) and commuters/remote workers (high speed internet, peaceful living, proximity to major metro areas). 

The consultation exposed the following: 

  • Strengths: Strong community ties, natural beauty, supportive business environment, excellent internet infrastructure.
  • Weaknesses: Scarce housing and childcare, limited nightlife, no public transit, concentrated economy.
  • Opportunities: Attracting immigrants, remote working interest, tourism potential, new economic policies like film industry support.
  • Threats: Aging demographics, climate vulnerabilities, external economic shifts, and competition from urban centers.

Robitaille said there is more to it than having a plan, but to make sure the community and the infrastructure is ready for the influx of newcomers is key to success. 

“We decided to break this into two distinct phases with implementation guidelines,” Robitaille said. “The first being an enhance and prepare phase. Looking at this as a five-year plan, the first couple years focuses much more on understanding and perhaps some of the areas of opportunity, perhaps addressing some of the weaknesses (housing).”

Within the readiness stage there are 10 components, he said, that should be looked at ahead of engaging and attracting in phase two. 

To enhance and prepare for the future, the town would need to address gaps in child care and housing, based on community needs, the marketing plan shows. There is also a need to upgrade infrastructure to support a diverse and growing population. Language supports, events and web tools are other enhancements that should be looked at to set people up for success in Perth. 

Developing a strong local brand and narrative, as well as targeted campaigns will help engage and attract people to town, the plan shows. 

Implementing the vision is tailored to the community feedback and strategic goals, Robitaille said, “being mindful of the human resources and the cost necessary for this stuff and trying to break things up over the course of the five years in a realistic manner that will allow for long-term success.”

Next steps include council endorsement and community involvement. 

Coun. David Bird asked about becoming a health hub due to the new health care models that are being implemented. “Would that fit into attracting businesses, or is that something separate we should address,” he asked. 

Robitaille said that was something that “screamed off the papers” for them as an opportunity for economic development. “In the realm of health, seeing how the population is the age it is and where things are heading … I think that is an amazing opportunity. It could be an interesting way to retain students here (who are attending Algonquin College) depending on what programs are offered or could be offered in the future. Those programs could be catered to the expertise needed for some of these health initiatives.”

Mayor Judy Brown said “there are so many things to pursue” but one of her concerns is attracting young people. 

Robitaille said “there are a lot of opportunities” in the plan to ensure that all ages are targeted with their marketing — especially by aligning with the college. 

Coun. Jim Boldt was receptive of the plan but conscious of the funding for infrastructure that would be needed for such “explosive growth” in a short period. 

“After decades of no growth, we are saddled with many builders that want to build for this explosive growth,” he said. “So it’s important that we try to capture what you’re proposing in the best way so that we’re going to be ready housing wise … but are we going to be ready enough for industry and growth in many other sectors.”

Boldt said he liked the plan, “but it’s only as strong as the weakest link.”

The committee accepted the report as information.

Hometown News
Author: Hometown News