Twenty storefronts in the downtown area may not sound like a lot, but Cathy Quesnel, business development co-ordinator for Chukuni Business Development Corp. (BDC), says striving to keep an active downtown can be challenging.
Quesnel says the Chukuni BDC, which covers the business communities in Red Lake and Ear Falls, works together with the communities participating in various events and festivals.
A "Shop Local" campaign that begins Dec. 1 features daily draws culminating in a grand prize draw later in December. The campaign's goal is to keep people shopping locally.
"Business is improving since the strike (at the mine) ended just over a year ago...People are finally starting to show more faith and are shopping locally, which contributes to the economy," says Quesnel. "Overall the outlook is good."
Red Lake is also what she terms "the self-proclaimed gateway to Woodland Caribou Wilderness Park," a recently developed heritage park operated by Ontario Parks, a division of the Ministry of Natural Resources.
The park plays a huge part in the area's foray into the area of ecotourism, it features ancient Ojibwa pictographs carved into rock faces and is accessible only along a canoe route. Some sections of the park are accessible by automobile, but most areas are more remote. Tourism has always been a big thing in the area though, especially for those seeking fishing and fly-in camps.
Now that the economy is on the upswing, Quesnel says the area actually offers a lot - a golf course, a view of Red Lake from the Main Street, all kinds of sports and leisure activities.. It is an ideal location for those seeking a new location in a natural setting, she says.