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Plans and projects for spring with Earth, Stone & Fire

Aileen Taylor - Friday, April 17, 2015

As we are all used to surviving long winters in Muskoka, it comes as no surprise that when spring and summer blossom, we want them to last as long as they can. The best way to enjoy those days is outdoors and Earth, Stone, & Fire can help stretch out that season and make it incredibly comfortable.

Earth, Stone, & Fire opened in 2013, making it a very new establishment in Muskoka. Husband and wife Mike and Sharon started out in landscaping before they thought of opening a wholesale and retail location in Muskoka. The couple found a niche market to provide high-quality products in the earth, stone, and fire areas. They supply local contractors and individuals with anything from soil and landscape products, to hearth accessories and firewood. Previously Mike and Sharon owned businesses further south before moving to Muskoka, and Sharon already had know-how for managing a large wholesale/retail landscape supply business.

They have continued to grow since welcoming Muskoka to their front doors, and are now focusing on answering the market call for firewood available for sale year round. Heating a home during winter is never easy and can be an expensive endeavour.  Sharon and Mike found a high demand for quality firewood in the region. They have consistently sold out of firewood early each year and are working to purchase more wood up front, advancing the processing and storage techniques while continuing to offer their other services.  Adding this feature to their repertoire of business will allow them to become a year-round business in 2015, keeping their employees on throughout the winter and continuing to grow their clientele.

In addition to offering retail products, Earth, Stone, & Fire also provide a basis for landscapers and other contractors to leave business cards and portfolios for customers. If an individual wants to buy something needing installation, Sharon and Mike can point out and encourage the use of local services. Creating this loyalty and sense of community within the industry continues to make Earth, Stone, & Fire, a special business. Muskoka Futures has continued to help with that business, as Sharon says “understanding how it (the business) helps the community” while keeping local businesses healthy too.

Muskoka Futures wants to make Muskoka an economic hub and thriving community so that both those making a life here and those visiting, can enjoy it to the fullest extent. This is done by helping local entrepreneurs and businesses flourish through business support services and loan provision. By promoting sustainable local economic development, Muskoka Futures helps individuals recognize their dreams and makes it not just “about the money”. A personal interaction makes it possible for individuals to shape their dreams and their futures into something they can be proud of and that can serve the community.

Don’t hesitate on setting up that outdoor kitchen of your dreams or making your garden the one you’ve always wanted. Earth, Stone, & Fire has expansive options and is ready to help you make it all a reality.

 

 

 

Rest Your Body- Mind- and Feet with Svastha Spa

Aileen Taylor - Tuesday, April 14, 2015

A massage, manicure, or pedicure that comes to you on the dock or in your own home. Pure relaxation without the stress of battling traffic. You could host your girlfriends for an afternoon of pampering and conversation.

               Open since February of last year, Svastha Spa offers mobile spa services to those seeking relaxation in the comfort of their own home. Svastha is a Sanskrit word meaning to be established in the self; it refers to the state of complete health and balance. Marrying a yoga element in with her treatments, Sara Ross, owner of Svastha Spa, says she wants her clients not just to look good, but to feel good in themselves and in their body while unplugging from everyday stresses. Sara started Svastha after being in the industry for a few years and hitting a ceiling within the workplace. Wanting to continue moving forward, she realized the best way to progress and grow had to be in her own dream. Since then she continues to innovate, offering spa parties where individuals can treat themselves and choose from the spa menu or create their own spa package.

 Creating Svastha Spa, Sara continues to follow her passion and has become a better businesswoman for it. She has learned that owning her own business means being “completely accountable for my business choices”. Sara had a clear vision for Svastha Spa and had help from numerous business organizations in Muskoka. A graduate of the Self Employment Assistance (SEA) program at BERN, Sara has now moved to be a member of Starter Company with Muskoka Small Business Centre, a program focused on youth entrepreneurs in Muskoka. She has also received a loan, and more importantly, mentorship and advice from Muskoka Futures. With a clear vision of what she wanted, this support was vital to Sara’s continued success and growth. With all of these organizations backing her, Sara feels the future is bright and she’s excited about upcoming changes, including a storefront in Huntsville. “Life has changed and I’ve made a lot of sacrifices, but I would never change anything”.

Muskoka Futures wants to make Muskoka an economic hub and thriving community so that both those making a life here and those visiting, can enjoy it to the fullest extent. This is done by helping local entrepreneurs and businesses flourish through business support services and loan provision. By promoting sustainable local economic development, Muskoka Futures helps individuals recognize their dreams and makes it not just “about the money”. A personal interaction makes it possible for individuals to shape their dreams and their futures into something they can be proud of and that can serve the community.

Relaxing with Sara and Svastha Spa is as easy as it gets. You can plan a spa birthday or bachelorette party, an afternoon to reconnect with old friends or just plain unwind. Open to all ages and coming to your own doorstep, Svastha Spa makes it easy to regain balance and turn the focus back on yourself in this busy world.

Visit Sara at: www.svasthaspa.com 

Food for the Soul in all Corners of the Market at North Catering

Aileen Taylor - Thursday, February 26, 2015

There is nothing better than a great plate of food, cooked by someone else, in a place that feels like home. The Oar and Paddle, Carey’s, and North Catering in Gravenhurst pride themselves in covering all corners of the market with their continued passion for food.

Owners Robbie and Alain started their own business venture with the casual fine dining experience of North Restaurant about 10 years ago. They have since continued to develop their brand and grow as the needs of their customers and their vision has changed. With three businesses, these two have their hands full and go from 15 winter employees, to a whopping 50 in summer. Describing themselves as cheerleaders for Gravenhurst, each of their businesses offers a different experience but with the same quality of food and friendly service. North Catering has continued to be true to its original roots, catering for the Muskoka Steamships, the Marriott Residence Inn Gravenhurst, the District Airport, and private functions and weddings.

As their business changed and new opportunities presented themselves, Robbie and Alain were at a crossroads. They purchased Carey’s Pub and Robbie says, became better business people. Carey’s helped the couple see that they could run a business year-round in Muskoka, and that it was alright to let go of North Restaurant and transition to a new vision. “We had to let go of what we saw for North, and be proactive to what people in the community wanted.” Shifting with the ebb and flow, the purchase of Carey’s was a catalyst for their transition to other markets. Robbie would not hesitate about going to Muskoka Futures for other expansive projects. “Muskoka Futures was very receptive and encouraging with our ideas when no one else was.”

Muskoka Futures wants to make Muskoka an economic hub and thriving community so that both those making a life here and those visiting, can enjoy it to the fullest extent. This is done by helping local entrepreneurs and businesses flourish through business support services and loan provision. By promoting sustainable local economic development, Muskoka Futures helps individuals recognize their dreams and makes it not just “about the money”. A personal interaction makes it possible for individuals to shape their dreams and their futures into something they can be proud of and that can serve the community.

The Oar and Paddle is now open year-round for you to enjoy and there is never a dull night. Dig out your cowboy boots for Spaghetti Western Tuesdays featuring live music and bottomless spaghetti and meatballs, or enjoy a quiet Wednesday evening with local live music. Carey’s Pub also features live music – and ‘Carey-oke’ night on Saturdays.  Continued partnerships with Peter’s Players have seen a great upswing in live music, and they continue to expand with their son opening North Café and Catering on the main street this past May.

 

If you haven’t visited the Oar and Paddle, you probably should. If you want that classic pub experience, hit Carey’s. And if you want specialty foods or catering tailor-made for your event, check out North Catering. 

Visit them at: http://www.northinmuskoka.com/

Cranberry cider - snow - and a true Canadian signature experience at Johnstons Cranberry Marsh

Aileen Taylor - Friday, January 23, 2015
Johnston’s Cranberry Marsh is a staple in Muskoka. Whether it is annually visiting their marsh during harvest season, hitting the 30 year old Bala Cranberry Festival, or grabbing a bag of berries to make cranberry sauce to go with the turkey, we are lucky to have the Cranberry Capital of Canada in our backyard.


Established in 1950, Johnston’s has continuously evolved. Murray and Wendy Johnston started running the Marsh in the 80s, continuing the legacy Murray’s parents created. As time passed, both the marsh and aspirations of the Johnston family have grown. From preserves to pure cranberry juice, wine to chocolate covered berries, and straight bags of cranberries, there is a large investment in Johnston’s and an immense feeling of community within the bogs. Local labour is the prime source of employees through their four open seasons. The family is also very environmentally minded, having Local Food Plus Certification and using environmentally friendly methods.

Although farming is not an overly common practice in Muskoka, the Johnston’s have continued to grow their agricultural business through innovation. Among their countless recognitions, like winning the Premier’s Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence for their White Cranberry Wine, the Johnston’s provide an attraction open consistently year-round. During the winter season, they offer Bog to Bottle tours starting every day at 1 p.m. Visitors can enjoy a cheese plate on their Feast On certified patio where both the fire and some mulled cranberry cider provide warmth. During harvest season, you can try their Stand in the Berries Experience, where a section of their bog and a few pairs of hip waders, are open for those wanting to stand thigh-high in cranberries. This coming summer will host the new Blueberry Experience, educating visitors on different blueberry products and varieties.


Wendy emphasizes how Muskoka Futures really focuses on the local community: “They fill a huge gap in supporting local businesses and we definitely see a continued partnership with them in the future”. An invaluable resource to the Marsh and their expansion to include a winery, the family-run business will continue to move forward as they expand their wine product overseas and in Quebec.

Muskoka Futures wants to make Muskoka an economic hub and thriving community so that both those making a life here and those visiting, can enjoy it to the fullest extent. This is done by helping local entrepreneurs and businesses flourish through business support services and loan provision.By promoting sustainable local economic development, Muskoka Futures helps individuals recognize their dreams and makes it not just “about the money”. A personal interaction makes it possible for individuals to shape their dreams and their futures into something they can be proud of and that can serve the community.

With an experience like this in our own backyard, it’s time to take a break from shoveling the snow and relax out at the Johnston’s Cranberry Marsh. You’ll learn about the berries, get outside and experience nature, strap on a pair snowshoes, and maybe get to warm your insides with a little cranberry wine. So head on out no matter what the season, and cross this Canadian Signature Experience off your list of things to do.

Visit them at: http://www.cranberry.ca/ 

No Lily-Dippers Here- Badger Paddles Digs the Water

Aileen Taylor - Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Breathe in. Breathe out. Muskoka is a nature lover’s paradise. With its crystal blue waters and ever-changing scenery, exploration and discovery are around every corner.

Learning all the tricks of the trade when it comes to working with wood from Fiona’s father, Mike and Fiona Ramsey commenced Badger Paddles in 2009 with $300 on a credit card. Sustaining the Badger & Sons name and focus on wood, Badger Paddles has continued to move up and expand their paddles and other wood products. Both Mike and Fiona firmly believe in the power of being outdoors and what better place to do that than the Muskoka region? Positive health benefits have been scientifically linked to being outdoors and being active. The Ramsey family are big advocators for it, and flocks of individuals have participated in their “Paddle in the Park” contest, searching for one of the nine paddles hidden across Ontario this year, by “getting out there”.  


From their simple start, Badge Paddles has developed into a prime producer of paddles in Muskoka. Paddles are shipped across the globe and cater from novice to expert paddling abilities. Both starting in the canoe industry, Mike has always wanted to start his own business and met Fiona when she was invited to do artistic scenes on paddles. Transitioning to their own business, Mike and Fiona moved to Huntsville and Badger Paddles emerged from the woodwork. With their progressive oval paddles, bigger handles, custom wears, Badger wood oil, paddle sleeves, and more, Badger Paddles has the goods for outdoor enthusiasts and those who prefer to admire the outdoors from the comfort of their own home. An artist by trade, Fiona does custom scenery and painting on paddles that make fantastic gifts, as well as the ability to do laser engraving in colour and with customizable logos.

Coming to Muskoka Futures, Badger Paddles received the “added bonus of knowing someone with knowledge and compassion” was behind their business vision. The personal and professional support meant more than a loan and helped them work through difficulties. Growing their fan-base through an influential social media presence and local features helped get this thriving paddle-maker off the shore and into the water. Badger Paddles sees a bright future in continuing to push the boundaries and pairing with other local enterprises. Fiona designed a poster featuring a female portage and stating ‘Girls Portage Too’. Selling a large number of these posters, Fiona has some ideas of where this could head in the future.

Muskoka Futures wants to make Muskoka an economic hub and thriving community so that both those making a life here and those visiting, can enjoy it to the fullest extent. This is done by helping local entrepreneurs and businesses flourish through business support services and loan provision. By promoting sustainable local economic development, Muskoka Futures helps individuals recognize their dreams and makes it not just “about the money”. A personal interaction makes it possible for individuals to shape their dreams and their futures into something they can be proud of and that can serve the community.

Discovering what’s just around the river bend and exploring the great outdoors is what Badger Paddles is all about –experiencing the beauty of place we have the honor of calling home. Breathe in. Breathe out. Answer nature.

Visit them at: www.badgerpaddles.com 

Doing More than Just Getting the Job Done- Castle Peak Retirement Residence

Aileen Taylor - Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Talking, shopping, outings, exercise and playing card games are often an average day for people. The only difference for this group is that there might be a handful more walkers and canes then your regular Sunday stroll.


Established since March 2013, Castle Peak Retirement Residence is a family owned and operated retirement residence that offers a smaller and more intimate experience for its residents. Born and raised in Muskoka, both Carlie and Todd have established their business by being rooted in the community. Carlie has been a Registered Nurse since 1996 and has spent most of her career involved with seniors care. Todd owns and operates another successful local business in town.  Their new business venture of Castle Peak Retirement Residence was born from this support basis. Living onsite, personal involvement and experience are a point of pride for the Willford family. Always adding new events while encouraging residents to be active in the community, these specific characteristics allow Castle Peak to set themselves apart.

Turning the vision of Castle Peak into a reality required a firm foundation of individuals and community support, as well as a strong financial backing. With those in the community already on board, Muskoka Futures offered the financial support Castle Peak was looking for. Carlie spoke of the struggles presented by their personal position of attaining a mortgage for such a large property. “Without Muskoka Futures, I’m not sure where we’d be right now or if we’d even be here”. With great support, Castle Peak reached full-occupancy within 18 months, filling 56 rooms. Currently featuring a large waiting list, the mantra of ‘make it or break it’ in regards to the business has been decided: “We made it”, Carlie says. She feels it is important for others to have the same opportunity that they did for a good grounding and support system within the community.

Muskoka Futures wants to make Muskoka an economic hub and thriving community so that both those making a life here and those visiting, can enjoy it to the fullest extent. This is done by helping local entrepreneurs and businesses flourish through business support services and loan provision. By promoting sustainable local economic development, Muskoka Futures helps individuals recognize their dreams and makes it not just “about the money”. A personal interaction makes it possible for individuals to shape their dreams and their futures into something they can be proud of and that can serve the community.

So don’t be fooled by the title. Retirement hardly means slowing down for the individuals of Castle Peak Retirement Residence and definitely keeps the staff happily busy. With the feeling of extended family promoted through this family-owned retirement residence, a warm and happy new home awaits for any senior looking to experience a fun, active and social retirement. 

Visit them at: www.castlepeakmuskoka.com

Open For Business Expo- PRESS RELEASE

Aileen Taylor - Tuesday, October 07, 2014

      

 
 

Media Release
For Immediate Release

Bracebridge, ON

October 7th, 2014

Discover our New Muskoka Businesses!

No need to wonder anymore about the new businesses in Muskoka! A new event called Open for Business Expo will have new businesses from all over Muskoka together in one place on Monday October 20 at the Rotary Centre for Youth in Bracebridge.  They will be set up and ready to tell you all about their businesses and the products and services they have to offer. This innovative and expansive event has not only the business owners excited, but all of Muskoka too!

‘Buy Local’ has become a firm message in communities across the country and partners throughout Muskoka have rallied together to shine a spotlight on local businesses and give them the recognition they deserve for all of their hard work.  Consumers continue to be conscious about using local businesses and services and are encouraged to participate in this event.

As the benefits of shopping locally in Muskoka are seen on a larger scale and with a broader reach to more people, the first ever Open for Business Expo will provide consumers the opportunity to learn about the variety of new businesses available right here in our own backyard.  This mini trade show will be a great opportunity for business to consumer connections and for businesses to network, connect, and create lasting partnerships.

Piloting this year’s event with their leadership are Muskoka Small Business Centre, Business Enterprise Resource Network (BERN) and Muskoka Futures.  The local Chambers of Commerce will also be represented through their participation and knowledge sharing.

The week of October 20th is the celebration of Small Business Week across the country. It is no coincidence that the Open for Business Expo will take place during this week. With such an opportunity to showcase their talent, the event is open to small and medium size new businesses that have participated in BERN’s Ontario Self Employment Assistance Program, or have been supported by Muskoka Small Business Centre and Muskoka Futures. Ontario has the fastest growing small business sector in the country and small business is truly at the heart of economic enterprise in Muskoka

So mark your calendars and come on out to this exciting new event.  It’s open to the public and sure to be both engaging and inspirational! We all look forward to seeing you there!  For more information or to register, contact Stefanie Hill at Muskoka Futures, (705) 646-9511 ex. 270, or Nicole Fraser at Muskoka Small Business Centre, (705)646-9021.

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Stefanie Hill

Muskoka Futures

(705) 646-9511 ex. 270

hill@muskokafutures.ca 

Nicole Fraser

Muskoka Small Business Centre

(705) 646-9021

nicole@muskokaenterprisecentre.com

Life is a Party- Celebrate with Muskoka Party Rentals!

Aileen Taylor - Monday, September 29, 2014

Everyone loves a good cake, enjoys music, conversation, and celebrations with loved ones. All of these things come together at a good party.

That’s where Muskoka Party Rentals comes in, helping plan out an event that will leave you and your guests wanting more. Celebrating a decade of operation this November, Muskoka Party Rentals offers everything “from tents to teaspoons”. Working with their varied customer base which host intimate backyard shindigs or weddings at local resorts, Kim Rixon and her team travel the surrounding area with spectacular word-of-mouth transfers. A combination of outside and local support has kept Muskoka Party Rentals busy all these years.

Upon hearing that the local party rental company would be going out of business, Kim left her job to take on the new professional venture of providing party supply services. She immediately joined the Canadian Rental Association where she sits on the board, and numerous Muskoka Chambers. Muskoka Party Rentals gives back to the community. They established their own building near Rocky Island Tire Co on Barron Drive, now processes their own linens, providing an array of colour options. They also feature tents larger than they’ve ever had before.

Keeping up with the ever-changing trends, Kim has her work cut out for her. A fresh new logo has been released for the company’s anniversary to go with all their changes.

After receiving a business loan from Muskoka Futures, Kim has attended workshops and participated in the mentorship program. “It is great to be paired with an ethical business person because you bring that into your own business,” she says. Kim will now be participating as a mentor, passing on her knowledge and already has advice for new business owners: “Take advantage of the programs and business support offered because they are invaluable - No one person can know everything and it is great to know there is a place you can come to ask questions”.

Muskoka Futures wants to make Muskoka an economic hub and thriving community so that both those making a life here and those visiting, can enjoy it to the fullest extent. This is done by helping local entrepreneurs and businesses flourish through business support services and loan provision. By promoting sustainable local economic development, Muskoka Futures helps individuals recognize their dreams and makes it not just “about the money”. A personal interaction makes it possible for individuals to shape their dreams and their futures into something they can be proud of and that can serve the community.

Making milestones memorable is what Muskoka Party Rentals does. So whether it’s an event big or small, you know exactly who to call to make your party rock.

Visit them at: www.muskokapartyrentals.ca

Rocking out to a whole new sound -Hunters Bay Radio is first on the dial

Aileen Taylor - Monday, August 18, 2014

With windows down, wind blowing through your hair and music playing on the radio, you can feel emotions and connect to things in a way you didn’t think was possible – that is what makes music special.

Hunter’s Bay Radio is community owned and run, setting this Huntsville team apart from other networks. Rocking the sound waves on the internet since 2009, HBR recently acquired their FM licencing to provide Muskoka on air sounds and commentary. HBR is heavily involved in the local music scene, supporting events like the Downtown Huntsville Sidewalk Stage and Muskoka Sound in September. Concentrating on local events, music and community, HBR has an open-style studio that provides a feeling of inclusion and a sense of awe, as anyone can walk into where broadcasts are recorded.

HBR has a huge online and social media following, a news department and about 40 volunteers in the community. Listeners from across the globe have only had positive comments about the station. As the sole independent voice of Muskoka, HBR filled a gap in community programming. Managing Director Jeff Carter brought individuality to Muskoka through his passion for music and promotion of local artists. A stage within the studio plays host to live public music night broadcasts. This wider experience that Jeff and his strong management team of experienced professionals strive for, provides not only a place for local artists, but the ability to bring social commentary back to the media. 


 

Muskoka Futures was an integral companion in the journey HBR took to spread their musical excitement and community-based commentary on FM radio. This continued expansion makes Jeff and his team feel great about the next steps for HBR, getting bigger and more popular. “I just wanted to offer something different from the mainstream media”.

Muskoka Futures wants to make Muskoka an economic hub and thriving community so that both those making a life here and those visiting, can enjoy it to the fullest. Muskoka Futures helps local entrepreneurs and businesses flourish through business support services and loan provision. By promoting sustainable local economic development, Muskoka Futures makes a personal connection with individuals, helps them recognize their dreams and makes it about more than “the money.”

Hunter’s Bay Radio: something different, something independent and the first channel on your dial. It’s pretty simple to find them and you won’t be disappointed in their musical taste, nor their promotion of the vast talent we have in Muskoka. Tune into HBR – keeping it local.

Visit them at: www.huntersbayradio.com

MEDIA RELEASE - SEGBAY Chamber Receives Muskoka Futures Funding for Tourism Map

Aileen Taylor - Tuesday, August 05, 2014


45  Lone Pine Road

Port Severn, ON  L0K 1S0

MEDIA RELEASE                                                                                                     August 5, 2014.

SEGBAY Chamber Receives Muskoka Futures Funding For Tourism Map

Port Severn - The Southeast Georgian Bay Chamber of Commerce (SEGBAY.ca) is pleased to announce a $4000 grant from Muskoka Futures, through the Muskoka Community Initiative (MCI), for the design and manufacture of a tourism map installed at the Muskoka Tourism Information Centre.

 

The Muskoka Community Initiative (MCI), which is designed to assist local organizations and communities in their pursuit of creative community-based projects that promote and support economic self-sufficiency and independence, has provided funding to assist in the creation of this map.

 

The map provides visitors with easy access to the locations of the tourism attractions, and their contact information, in the southeast Georgian Bay region during and after business hours, benefitting and sustaining not only the attractions, but also accommodations and hospitality businesses in the region.  The local attractions will benefit from increased visitors to the area, and this will provide jobs to seasonal workers.  The map also illustrates the ATV and snowmobile trails in the region.  There is spin-off revenue for the businesses that request signage above the map, hospitality businesses that benefit from the tourism in the area.

The Southeast Georgian Bay Chamber of Commerce is very pleased overall with the completed project.  The sign and map greatly enhances the entrance to the Muskoka Tourism/Chamber of Commerce facility.

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The objective of the Southeast Georgian Bay Chamber of Commerce shall be to promote and improve trade and commerce and the economic, civic and social welfare of the district while preserving the environment.

                                                                     

 


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