New director of economic development hopes to see growth in the county

By Stephen Petrick
Scott Ovell has had a long and interesting career in economic development. Now he’s joining Haliburton County at an interesting time.

Ovell, the new director of economic development and tourism for Haliburton County, has joined the county at a time when the way people travel and spend money are set to change. Its job will be to help businesses in Haliburton County – especially tourism businesses – be prepared to face stiffer competition for travelers’ money.
“COVID has amplified the number of people to come [to cottage country] because more people were traveling within the country, ”he said in an interview. “All the data and information suggests that people, perhaps by next summer, will be looking for [to travel] elsewhere … We will have to try to separate and put ourselves above the noise.
By this, Ovell means that businesses in Haliburton County will have to work together to highlight what makes the region special and try to stand out from other regions. He said that a “cottage community” like Haliburton competes not only with other tourist destinations in the world, but with other areas of the province known for their cottages, such as the Niagara region or the region. from Collingwood.

This means the county will need to have a solid economic development plan for the future, and people from across the business community will be needed to provide input, he said.
“We need to work with all sectors to make the county as a whole more resilient… On the tourism side, it’s about continuing to do what we do, as well as working with our stakeholders to learn what we can. do better.”
Ovell has a unique background that makes it well equipped to lead the charge. He grew up near Bracebridge, but moved to British Columbia to study at Thompson Rivers University. He obtained a bachelor’s degree in tourism management from the school in 2003. He also obtained a minor in international development and this training allowed him to work for a time in South America, where he learned how tourism projects can lead to economic development.
He then returned to Ontario, where he held various positions related to government and tourism. He was previously an Economic Development Officer for the Wahta Mohawk community and most recently an Economic Development Officer for the City of Huntsville, a position he held from 2013 until this month. Ovell officially joined Haliburton County on November 8.
Ovell said that in his first two weeks he spent much of his time getting to know local stakeholders, including county councilors. In the coming days, he will participate in the hiring of a new tourism manager to work alongside him.

Ovell has made it clear that he will not take on his new role with the desire to carry out personal projects or instill his own mandate in the community.
“It will really be about working with the county council and the townships; about putting a plan in place, asking what our priorities are. It is about informing them regularly of initiatives and listening to them if we have to change course.
“It’s always exciting to work in economic development because no two days are the same,” he added. “I like solving problems, helping people, and seeing growth and progress. It’s always exciting, but there are a lot of challenges.