Muskoka’s iconic scenery was carved out by ancient glacial activity that shaped rivers and lakes, softened mountains into rolling hills, and exposed the granite that has become a trademark of the region. Its exceptional lakes, waterfalls, and forests attract tourists from around the world. The Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve, designated by UNESCO in 2004, stretches along the world’s largest freshwater archipelago (known as the 30,000 Islands) and supports over 1,000 types of habitat for rare species.
The area was first settled by immigrants from Europe, followed closely by loggers. Steam navigation inspired the first resorts, expanding into the construction of private cottages dotting the many waterfronts. And thus, Muskoka became branded as ‘cottage country’. But look closer … it is so much more!
A corporate culture
Perhaps partially due to the demand for urbanized facilities and amenities from city-based guests and cottagers, the area has a sophisticated infrastructure, both physical and digital. Muskoka enjoys a central location with relatively easy access to all parts of the province—Toronto, Ottawa, northern Ontario are all within a few hours’ drive.
Numerous corporate clients choose Muskoka’s fine resorts for their conferences and retreats: Taboo Resort, Muskoka Bay Club, Windermere House, Deerhurst Resort, the J.W. Marriott The Rosseau, and Clevelands House are just a few of the choices. It plays host to world-class events, most notably the 2010 G8 Summit of world leaders, resulting in the construction of the Canada Summit Centre in Huntsville, an impressive centre for sports and arts.
Key economic sectors encompass tourism (and related industries such as hospitality, retail, construction, and real estate), as well as light manufacturing, professional services, engineering, and green technologies. The creative economy has a strong presence in Muskoka, with many vibrant arts organizations and networks. And, with the flexibility afforded by the Internet, home-based businesses are an attractive option.
People helping people
Muskoka is primed for significant economic development, and the welcome mat is rolled out. Business support and, in some cases, funding sources are available from agencies such as the Muskoka Small Business Centre, Muskoka Community Futures Development Corporation, Muskoka Community Network, FedNor, and the Chambers of Commerce throughout the towns and townships.
The municipalities within Muskoka take pride in working hard to streamline the building and development approvals. With a personalized approach, they get to know the people, forming relationships that facilitate the process. Municipal staff members often act as conduits, introducing potential partners, collaborators, and investors. They can also lend support with site selection, data services, and community familiarization.
One entrepreneur’s story
Daniel Collins first established Brew Culture in Vancouver in 2014, with a storage facility in Hamilton, supplying craft brewers across the country with hops and brewing aids such as water purification systems, cleaning chemicals, and equipment. “Most of our business is in the hops,” Daniel explained, “and we work with growers around the world.”
Craft beer is experiencing a remarkable resurgence, and this province has craft brewers from Kenora to Windsor. Daniel and his wife, Lisa, decided to move to Ontario, and several factors led them to Muskoka; for instance, the lower property costs and business support. “Muskoka Futures was a tremendous help to us,” said Lisa, “both for funding and for advice.”
Both of them wanted an area that worked for their company while accommodating their enthusiasm for the outdoors. Muskoka’s natural assets and modern conveniences were a winning combination. “The proximity to major highways makes our business distribution easy,” said Daniel, “and we love being able to just walk out our back door for a winter snowshoe.”
The time is right
Now is the best time to get in on the ground floor, with Muskoka poised for substantial growth. The markets are expanding, as people transform their seasonal homes into permanent residences, and the robust tourism economy translates into millions of visitors every year.
Property costs, building development charges, and commercial taxation levels are lower than urban rates; and serviced land is available, some with fibre optic cabling installed. Lower housing costs mean that first-time home buyers are not strapped by hefty mortgages. Young business people and professionals, constrained by the costs of city living, are increasingly taking advantage of the current value of purchasing or leasing in the region.
Muskoka is a superb location for a thriving business and low-cost healthy lifestyle, with plenty of activities for adults and children, a great community spirit, and a safe environment. It’s an opportunity well worth considering!
Contact one of the team today to get to know Muskoka just a little bit better.