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Hastings County hopes ‘lone eagles’ will flock here

By Mark Hodgins [1]

BELLEVILLE – Hastings County has started a new campaign it hopes will bring more city folk to the area.

The I Left the City [2] campaign is part of the county’s new Economic Development Action Plan, which looks to bring new investment to the region.

The campaign targets it calls “lone eagles.”  Andrew Redden, economic development manager for the county, defines these as “people who live in big cities like Toronto or Ottawa and have businesses or talents that can be easily transferred to a rural area.”

Redden says the county has many offerings for prospective “lone eagles,” like a quieter pace of life and the lower cost of real estate.  Asked if slow internet service could be a problem, Redden notes that “all of our urban areas have high speed,” and for rural areas, satellite internet, though more expensive, is an option.

Redden’s department has put together a promotional video showcasing a few “eagles” who have already made the flight over.

The video has been set up to appear as an advertisement to people watching other YouTube videos in Ottawa and Toronto. It costs the county two cents for every complete view, so if the viewer clicks “skip ad,” the county isn’t charged.

The Economic Action Plan was updated last year, and that’s led to this effort to bring in new blood to the county. There isn’t a concern about a lack of investment, says Redden, but the fact of the matter is that the population here is aging. He hopes the campaign can bring in people to help “take over” when the baby boomers retire in 10 to 15 years, he said.

“We’ve got to be progressive and proactive” to keep the county going strong, he added.

As of Thursday morning, the five-day-old promotional video was sitting at nearly 26,000 views.