The provincial government has announced that it is providing a $350,000 forgivable loan to the Rodd Grand Hotel and Convention Centre in Yarmouth, a hotel that is considered to be an economic anchor for the region.
As well, the province is providing $150,000 to support the 2013 World Junior A Challenge, which is being held here in November for a second consecutive year. The economic impact from hosting this event in Yarmouth two years in a row will generate more than $4 million in economic activity for the region.
"Families and businesses of southwest Nova Scotia have weathered very difficult economic times, but things are beginning to turn around and we need to be ready," said Fisheries and Aquaculture Minister Sterling Belliveau, on behalf of Economic and Rural Development Minister Percy Paris during an announcement made on Monday, Feb. 11.
About the loan to the Grand Hotel, Belliveau said, "This loan will protect about 75 jobs at the Rodd Grand and help continue to attract convention-goers, athletes, volunteers, event spectators, and tourists that spend money and create jobs in other businesses throughout our region."
The Rodd Grand has an annual payroll of $1.3 million, providing jobs for both Yarmouth families and students. The hotel and convention business puts $2.5 million annually into the local economy.
Mark Rodd, CEO of Rodd Hotel and Resorts, said the investment is good for the region.
"This investment will allow us to continue to play a key role in the local economy and the tourism prospects of the region," said Rodd.
"This is very positive news for all of us," said Wally Murphy, who has worked at the Rodd Grand for 33 years. "It brings certainty and stability not only to us as employees, but the community too."
Rodd Hotel and Resorts says it will continue to invest in advertising and marketing, which will benefit the entire region. The Rodd Grand has 138 rooms, as well as convention facilities not available elsewhere in the Yarmouth region located within a hotel.
"To continue to attract visitors and major events to southwestern Nova Scotia, it is important that we preserve the convention space we have in Yarmouth," said Darlene Grant Fiander, president of the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia. "These investments in tourism's infrastructure are crucial to attracting and building new business in the region."
This is not the first time the province has announced funding for the Rodd Grand Hotel. In December 2011 the government announced $1 million for the hotel. At that time it was said that half of the $1 million would help cover operating losses at the hotel so that it was able to remain open. To better position itself to go after events to host in the future, the hotel was also said to be in need of upgrades, including new windows, roofing work and electrical work, which part of the funding also covered.
As mentioned, the province also announced on Feb. 11 that it is also providing $150,000 to support the 2013 World Junior A Challenge, which Yarmouth is hosting for the second year in a row. It is the first time in the tournament's seven-year history that a community has hosted back-to-back tournaments. Last year the province contributed $250,000 towards the event.
People in Yarmouth have been pleased with the announcement that the World Challenge, which sees six visiting teams for over a week.
Myra Ritchie, owner of Mern's Place restaurant, said the extra business that resulted from last year's World Junior A Hockey Challenge helped keep her business in the black.
"I served 845 meals to three teams over that week and it helped us get through a tough time," said Ritchie. "It was a big boost to us and a lot of other businesses and I'm really looking forward to it again. We definitely need the convention space downtown because that's what helps bring in visitors."
Mitch Bonnar, chair of the 2013 World Junior A Challenge host committee said without the Rodd Grand Hotel it was highly unlikely Yarmouth could have hosted the tournament.
"The return of this tournament to Yarmouth is huge for the region. This is an endorsement of the can-do attitude of this community, and it once again gives the region the opportunity to showcase itself as a world class destination," said Bonnar. "The support by the province has been instrumental in allowing the community to once again host this great tournament."
Said Yarmouth Mayor Pam Mood, "We're certainly excited to welcome the world back to Yarmouth, and we're thankful to the province for partnering with us to make this event happen. The announcement of support for the Rodd Grand is equally exciting.
"It's the result of positive negotiations between the province and a good corporate citizen and we're thankful to see such support for this piece of tourism infrastructure."