“Jobs of the Future” is a series focusing on career paths, local job opportunities, programs, and tales of success that highlight North Bay's diverse job market.
This is the second of a two-part feature highlighting local entrepreneur Ben Farella, Owner and President of gd2go and involved in the local film and television industry. Read part one
“I think gd2go is a perfect example of what can be birthed out of good strategic thinking where you’re looking at research that tells you trends and you build a company that has the esthetics that communicate properly to the consumer that you’re trying to reach,” says Farella about the home-grown restaurant that has blossomed as one of the “go to” places for a healthy, great-tasting meal in North Bay.
Farella derived that philosophy through his background in marketing and communications, an industry he has been involved in since his early 20s.
“My partner and I bought Vic Fedeli Advertising Agency in 1992 and sold it to a public company in the late ‘90s before buying it back in the early 2000s. We have started many businesses, as well as fundraising solution companies that have helped raised tens of millions of dollars across North America,” he says.
“I’ve always loved that creativity around marketing and the whole business element as well.”
That has led Farella to get involved in an industry that is blossoming in North Bay
“One of the things I’m really passionate about right now is the film industry here locally,” says Farella.
“Why I love film and television in North Bay is that it doesn’t matter whether you are a writer, or you do makeup or you are into any kind of technology around cameras, whatever it may be, the diversity in the employment opportunities for our young people here in North Bay are vast and they have potential to be very well paying jobs.”
Farella says this has the potential to be one of, if not the biggest, economic engines in North Bay.
“This is an opportunity for us to build an industry that is sustainable and growing and allows us to bring in professionals from other communities who want to live in North Bay and buy homes and buy cars and pay taxes and spend money in our stores and restaurants. It also gives young people an opportunity to not have to leave, or if they have left, they can come back.”
Farella says he is working on developing some buildings to accommodate those working in the industry.
“My partner Bruce Knox and I are building a boutique hotel and flash apartments for the film community as we speak. We’re also consulting with a number of film projects to help them as a local liaison and welcome them into the community and get them settled and whatever they may need.”
Farella says the advantage North Bay has right now over other locations is that the infrastructure is being developed locally.
“We’ve slowly built an industry over the last 20 years and today, I feel like we have a one-yard advantage over the rest of the communities because we are starting to build the infrastructure and we have a more talented crew that can be utilized locally. Rather than bringing crew in from elsewhere, these production companies are saving on transportation and accommodations and it makes us a much more viable option as a city.”
But he adds more needs to be done to keep that momentum moving.
“We need to really accelerate that process and there’s going to be an announcement in the next few months that will really put that forward. For people in high school, if you ever wanted to work in the entertainment production industry, there is a clear path to doing it now in North Bay and if there’s an opportunity to give them a platform to accelerate their learning and come out of school ready to work on productions then the sky is the limit for North Bay.”
Farella says due to the COVID-19 pandemic the, “Demand for entertainment through film and television has never been greater.”
“You can’t even book a studio in Toronto or Montreal or Vancouver because they have been booked for years, so there’s a really good opportunity right there for our city. It’s so exciting to know that we can become Hollywood North here. We’ve also got some really interesting attributes with our physical geography and the smalltown feel that all those Christmas movies are looking for.”
He has also managed to find a way to integrate his gd2go business within this world of film and television as gd2go caters to a majority of the projects.
“That combination of marketing and film and television and food services dominates what I do today. But I’ve always been motivated by looking for a hole and finding a solution for a business opportunity that needs us to help fill those holes,” says Farella.
“About 99 per cent of ideas die in the vine because people don’t have the capacity to move things into action. An idea is one thing but executing and putting things into action with respect to risk capital is another thing. It just comes down to not being afraid to fail and unfortunately, you’re going to fail more than you succeed. I’ve been involved in 30 businesses and I bet about half of them didn’t last more than a year, but a good chunk of the other ones has been very successful. I think it just comes down to not being afraid to fail and doing whatever needs to be done to take it to the next step.”