From its early beginnings of the original McCabe's Landing, the Town of Gravenhurst, like other small towns in Ontario is an evolving community and economy. With the introduction of navigation on the Muskoka Lakes and the launching of the first steamboats on these waters in the 1860's Gravenhurst began its settlement journey. The arrival of the railway in 1875 allowed the Town to become a major sawmilling centre with more than a dozen mills to process the pine wood from all over Muskoka. Those same forests helped the area to become Canada's preeminent vacation destination throughout its history.
At the turn of the 20th century the town began a long relationship with sanatoria and a variety of industry as key economic drivers and employers of the residents. From carriages, buggies, beverage bottling, paint brushes and other goods were produced in Gravenhurst. But fortunes turned for many of these employers and by the early 1990's had disappeared, taking the well paying year-round jobs with them. The economy of Gravenhurst, "Gateway to Muskoka" has been historically dominated by the tourism industry and its related seasonal cottaging life-style.
The following are Gravenhurst economic development goals:
- To increase the number and diversity of the permanent resident population with an emphasis on the creative class in the peak earning years.
- To become a year-round diversified economy, attracting new investment, expanding the tax base, providing greater employment opportunity and career enhancement.
- To foster an entrepreneurial and creative culture to encourage and support new enterprise creation and retain established business.
- To leverage tourism product enhancement to increase the number of visitors and seasonal residents and increase their average expenditures, while improving the quality of place for established residents and attractiveness to new creative class workers and entrepreneurs.
To achieve these goals the primary task will be to foster an economic climate in which the "creative economy" can flourish.The creative economy is sector or industry agnostic and knows no boundaries. Creative occupations cut across all industry sectors as we currently label them, including agriculture and manufacturing. It refers to those who innovate and create new ideas, new technologies and/or creative output. They are called upon to explore the possibilities; to solve problems in their day-to-day work. They are employed in science, engineering, arts, culture, entertainment and knowledge-based professions, management, finance, law, healthcare and education. In short, it is about "people who are paid to think".