November 15, 2016 – Barbara Simpson, The Observer – Brooke-Alvinston may be small, but it’s mighty thanks to the tireless work of its volunteers, says one of the community’s most enthusiastic cheerleaders.
“The council supports us and all the community groups work together,” said Helen Lomax, a motivational speaker and entrepreneur who’s part of the Alvinston Community Group.
Formed in 2007, the group of local residents has taken on projects like the construction of the town’s first skateboard park, through to the creation of Alvin – a new 10-foot bee statue that pays homage to the town’s connection to the honey industry.
“Look at what you have,” Lomax advised regional economic leaders Tuesday. “Build upon that.”
And Alvinston took a piece of its own advice Tuesday by showcasing its community through the Teeny Tiny Southwest Summit.
More than 120 regional economic and community leaders attended the all-day conference held at the Brooke-Alvinston-Inwood Community Centre.
“I’m so pleased to see people come from surrounding municipalities,” Brooke-Alvinston Mayor Don McGugan said.
While the conference featured a host of out-of-town guest speakers, Lomax and McGugan used the event to market the municipality with a population of 2,500.
McGugan said one of Alvinston’s biggest selling points is its high-speed Internet connection – often a rarity in small-town Ontario.
He hopes Alvinston can start better marketing its high-speed Internet access to out-of-towners.
“The high-speed in Alvinston is wonderful,” he said. “It’s about two-thirds of the price in London.”
Brooke Telecom – a co-operative television, phone and Internet provider – provides fibre Internet service to all homes in Alvinston and Watford, as well as some homes in between the two communities.
Reliable Internet access is an advantage especially when businesses like Sarnia’s former Marriott call centre are now employing people to work from home, said Geoff Greening, general manager of Brooke Telecom.
“A person in Alvinston could have a full-time job working from Alvinston,” he said.
McGugan credits his community’s success – which now includes the start-up of seven new businesses in the last year – to three factors: a council with an open mind, great municipal staff, and above all, volunteers.
“The volunteers are what make Brooke-Alvinston run,” the mayor said.