The Cape Breton Partnership will be looking to piggyback on the worldwide attention afforded to the Farmer’s Daughter in 2016 as the organization launches a website marketing Cape Breton as a place to live, work and study.
The Farmer’s Daughter market, located in Whycocomagh, placed a Facebook advertisement a few years ago offering free land as an incentive to prospective employees.
The ad caught on, garnering attention from media outlets around the world that picked up the story. And the posting went viral with more than 500,000 social media interactions.
As a result of the thousands of inquiries from that one advertisement, a marketing campaign launched by the Cape Breton Partnership with the assistance of Sydney marketing firm, Anchored Ideas, on Wednesday will share the campaign with 36,000 email addresses collected based on interest from the initial Farmer’s Daughter ad.
The new website – www.welcometocapebreton.ca – is being treated as a “one-stop shop” for information on Cape Breton, everything from how to get here, the major industries, educational opportunities and the lifestyle, Cape Breton Partnership president and CEO Carla Arsenault said.
“When the original campaign ran what we found out was that there were people inquiring, not just to work at the Farmer’s Daughter, but there were many more people interested in Cape Breton,” she said.
“We felt this was a tremendous opportunity to reach out to these individuals directly and further pursue the opportunity to help encourage them to come here to the island.”
The website offers a snapshot on transportation hubs – how to get on and off the island – as well as the cost of investing and doing business in Cape Breton. There’s also mention of the labour force with a note that “many of Cape Breton’s talented tradespeople,” in the range of 1,200 to 2,200, work in Western Canada, specifically in the Alberta oilsands.
Missing from the marketing campaign, however, is any indication of the island’s chronically high unemployment rate currently at about 13 per cent.
The issue of affordable housing needed to attract workers back to Cape Breton isn’t addressed, although the website does note a Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. statistic from 2012 where the median cost of a single-detached house is $220,000. There was no mention of rental housing prices.
Arsenault said the website’s purpose is to act as the “first point of contact” with people potentially looking at relocating for work or study.
“There’s a lot of work and dialogue that would go back and forth to somebody who’s looking to immigrate to Cape Breton, to investing, studying or visiting here,” she said.
“Anyone (interested) would likely be conducting further research and there are a lot of available online resources as well.”
The Cape Breton Partnership did not collect data into how many people followed through with a move to the island after viewing the Farmer’s Daughter ad, however, it plans to keep close track of those interested in relocating to Cape Breton through this marketing campaign, Arsenault said.
The partnership will be responsible for maintaining and updating the website.
Farmer’s Daughter co-owner Heather Austin-Coulombe said her market hired eight new employees who brought 18 additional family members in the years after posting their Facebook ad.
They still get between five and 10 inquiries a day about relocating to Inverness County.
“I cannot wait to see what kind of renewed interest the marketing campaign and website generates,” Austin-Coulombe said in a release issued Wednesday.