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Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce

Pan Am’s biggest biz impact may be longer term

While Pan Am’s biggest impact was felt in Port Dalhousie, it’s enduring business legacy may come later.

Port’s businesses reported a general, if slight, uptick in new customers compared to usual over the past five days.

“In the mornings, everyone showed up and it was busy,” Wolfgang Guembel, co-owner of Port active lifestyle store Trysport Niagara on Lock St.

“Some were in a rush to get to the venue, but in between sessions it was quite busy in Port here with people wandering into the shops,” said Guembel, also chair of Port’s business improvement area. “We had quite a few people from out of down … GTA people and (others) from Quebec.”

Dave Prentice, owner of the Kilt and Clover on Lock and Mains Sts., said his bar’s business was “robust” over the weekend.

“The whole feeling in town was good,” Prentice said.

However, Alis Kilcoglu — co-owner of Oasis Lakeside Pita in Port — said she hadn’t noticed many more people coming to her ice-cream store and eatery.

“Nothing different, there was no extra business,” she said, adding some of the locals may have actually avoided the Port area for fear of crowds and unavailable parking.

Meanwhile, Mishka Balsom, CEO of the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce, says she’s seeing the big picture.

Balsom said business leaders from the Americas are “meeting up with business people here” in an initiative which is bringing together economic development players to leverage the Pan Am Games in the GTA.

“I am looking at this from a bit of a different scale,” she said. “A lot of good relationships are being developed through this process.

In the Americas Investment Playbook, Hamilton and Niagara Regions are promoting programs and events designed to promote investment, trade and provide exposure to companies.

“The goal is to engage firms from Latin American countries and the United States,” says the Website, with firms from other interested countries are also welcome.

“This is where I really see the longterm benefit,” Balsom said. “We have these key decision makers here and the conversations have been amazing.”

“I am looking at it as huge partnership opportunity,” she said. “I truly believe that is the success story, here.”

There was also some extra traffic in St. Catharines’ core, reports Tisha Polocko, executive director of the St. Catharines Downtown Association.

“We noticed more tourism foot traffic downtown,” Polocko said. “The last few days… there seemed to be more people walking around and people coming into (our office) for more tourism-related things.”
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