Laxmi Konwar says she has been to many places around the world. However, when she first set foot in North Bay, she says she felt something special.
"I didn't do any research but I have visited many places but when I came to North Bay I felt a connection," she said.
"I felt at peace with this place and I loved it. I wanted to be at this place. I did not know anyone here, I only knew one person. After living here I loved it more because people were so loving and I had a lot of support and I love the beauty of this place. I felt life was much easier."
Konwar, who is originally from Nepal, is one of the owners of Northern Himalayan Cafe at Jack Garland Airport. She was one of a handful of immigrant local business people who spoke at the unveiling of a new Invest North Bay marketing strategy aimed at bringing more business from the south to North Bay.
The marketing strategy targets two distinct audience groups, immigrant investors and those seeking to escape the gridlock and congestion of the GTA.
Ian Kilgour, director of community development and growth with the City of North Bay, says North Bay has never targetted the GTA the way other communities in the north like Elliot Lake and Sudbury have in the past.
"The GTA is one of the fastest-growing markets in North America and the city of North Bay is one of the best-kept secrets in North America and we have to get the story out that this is a place to do business and a place to live," said Kilgour.
"What I have learned in the last little while is you can make the best widgets but if nobody knows they are for sale, they are not buying."
Invest North Bay Chairman George Burton was a no-show at the event. Organizers claimed a family emergency pulled Burton away at the last minute and so made hias comments via video conference.
The unique stories of eight immigrant investors, including Konwar, who have achieved success in North Bay will be a key part of the strategy.
"I think it is a great opportunity because many people have not heard about North Bay," said Konwar.
"Even in Toronto, people have not heard about North Bay. So I think this will bring more awareness to people who don't know that North Bay is so close to Toronto and they did not know they could explore the possibilities, and living here is much better. Your lifestyle is that much better so hopefully, this will provide them with the opportunity to know about this little beautiful place."
The strategy was created locally by TWG Communications and is based on detailed research conducted by Environics Analytics, Canada’s premier research organization.
Kilgour says the detailed statistical data from tens of thousands of data sources will be used to pinpoint North Bay’s highest potential targets in the GTA.
The strategy, which will be implemented over the course of the next two years, includes branding and a dedicated website - inbay.ca.
More videos will be added as the strategy is rolled out and there will be an online list of available commercial opportunities. ‘Opportunity Ambassadors’ will deal directly with potential investors and new residents.