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South River eyeing phone app as major promotions tool

·3 min read

South River is on the verge of launching a phone app that tells visitors where they can stay, eat, play and explore in the village.

Todd Lucier, the co-founder of Northern Edge Algonquin, is the main individual behind the Explore South River app.

Lucier said the goal was to create a thriving vision for the community.

“It shines a beautiful light on South River businesses and it's appealing to residents and visitors,” Lucier told South River council.

Lucier had the help of 20 to 30 people at different stages compiling the history of the community and its stories.

Before getting into the details of the app, Lucier told council a primary objective is for South River to present a “vision of care” to visitors and residents.

This meant providing as many services as possible on the app, with businesses explaining their goods or services.

Lucier said while no one puts tourism pamphlets in pharmacies, visitors will want to know things like where the drug store or dental office are located, in case they break a tooth and need a dentist to help them.

As long as a business is part of the app's listings, users can get the phone number or route to the place they want to go to, as well as watch a video of the business or place.

Lucier said the app is still evolving and the big job is to get as many people as possible to download it.

When it's ready to launch, the village will have a tool that highlights events in the area and that information, as Lucier put it, will be “put in the palms” of everyone's hands.

Currently, the app has about 200 South River and area listings.

To increase awareness of the app, Lucier says an advertising agency created an Explore South River logo, depicting a sawn log with three tree rings and a heart in the middle.

Lucier called the logo a “bullseye heart.” Surrounding the heart are dark blue and purple dots.

Lucier said the outer ring is yellow and represents the sun shining on everyone, while the green ring is symbolic of the area's forests and the blue ring represents the water.

The dots around the heart are residents and visitors connecting with each other.

Promotional material like T-shirts, handbags and stickers have been made and distributed to various outlets to be sold and, in some cases, given away as promotions.

“This could be a transformational project for South River,” Lucier said.

He strongly believes it can be nominated for an Ontario Tourism Resiliency Award under the collaboration category.

The Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corp. has provided funding to keep an intern in place for a year.

Among the intern's responsibilities are to keep the listings on the app updated with new information.

Lucier told council it could help build a brand by creating a budget to cover the future costs of banners with the Explore South River logo.

He said the bullseye heart banners, spread across the village, would cost about $200 apiece.

Coun. Bill O'Hallarn said what Lucier is asking from the village is very little.

O'Hallarn was impressed with what could be done with the app and said today's technology has made the traditional ways of how a community promotes itself a thing of the past.

Mayor Jim Coleman also was impressed with the concept and said town council will be in touch with Lucier.

Lucier will next make a similar presentation to Machar town council.

Rocco Frangione is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the North Bay Nugget. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

Rocco Frangione, Local Journalism Initiative, The North Bay Nugget

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