Success Stories


September- Featured Business (Nathan Plichta Owner of West End Cannabis Co.)


  PACE is excited to recognize Nathan Plichta and his team of West End Cannabis Co., located on Highway 17 in Vermilion Bay as our feature business this quarter. Nathan is from Red Lake and opened his original retail location in 2020 which was the first retail cannabis store in Red Lake.  The store has become a local staple and sees basket size 40% higher than the provincial average as well as up to 60 customers per day.  With such a great response in Red Lake and there being several retail stores in Dryden already, Nathan thought Vermilion Bay would be an ideal place for another shop.  After some consideration of locations, the former Northern Lights Credit Union building became the perfect site for the new retail space.  PACE was able to approve funding to help with the purchase of the building and renovations needed to pass the rigorous procedures for the approved cannabis retail license. 

  With this structure being a former financial institution, there were several features of the building that complemented the strict regulations of owning a cannabis retail store.  The lay out and original “teller” counters gave an ideal set up for what is required practice in any store of this type.  With a double set of doors at the entrance, it was easy to implement camera security for ID-ing patrons before buzzing them into the store. These protocols were all part of the inspection process through the AGCO for operation of a cannabis retail store.  Once the license was approved, Nathan completed the renovations including some very fun, unique artwork throughout the shop.  His graffiti artists out of Edmonton and Winnipeg had a blank slate for adding the personal touches to the walls, counters, and vestibule.  It is truly a one-of-a-kind shop and sure to impress those that walk through the doors.  They even have a gratitude wall in the back warehouse listing everyone that helped make this dream location a reality, including a shout out to PACE! 

  PACE appreciates the opportunity to assist with this project for Nathan and his new location and is grateful for his contribution to economic development in the PACE catchment area including maintaining and creating jobs.  We wish him all the best for the future and congratulate him on much success in the community.  Nathan plans to be an active member of the Machin area including a sponsor of events and activities.  He is happy to be part of the local business sector and has been pleased with the response and support he received throughout the process. For more information on this business, visit the website below.

For more information about Nathan's Store please check out his webpage below!

 West End Cannabis Co. | Premium Cannabis Products and Accessories 

June- Featured Business (Rhonda Gouilique of The Pet Store)


PACE is excited to recognize Rhonda Gouilique of The Pet Store on 23 Duke Street, in Dryden as our featured business this quarter. 

Rhonda has been the owner of The Pet Store since 2016 after purchasing the business from the previous owners.  Her love of animals and dedication to loyal customers made it an easy choice to become the owner and take over this thriving business.

  In 2021, Rhonda had the opportunity to move to a larger location.  She came to PACE for funding assistance and purchased the building on Duke Street.  The new store provided better exposure, a larger floor space with ample parking and improved access for deliveries.  It has become the perfect location for the business to continue to service Dryden and surrounding area with premium pet food and more products in the larger space.  Even throughout the lockdowns and restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic, the business remained steady in revenue with higher volume of clients due to the increase in adopted pets and people working from home.

   Her challenge during that time was supply chain and getting enough inventory onto her shelves and keeping up with curbside pick ups.  Now that things are back to normal, Rhonda has expanded her service within the new store and added a dog wash station, which had always been her goal since taking over the business.  “The Paw Spa” has been getting lots of use and positive feedback since it opened in April. 

   As a result of the move, Rhonda has also hired two more employees to keep up with customer traffic and ensuring the floor space is stocked with products and clientele are looked after.  The Pet Store is an asset to the Dryden community and surrounding region being the only premium pet food store between Kenora and Thunder Bay.  Her customer base includes Sioux Lookout, Ignace, Machin and even Fort Frances.  We are pleased to continue to work with Rhonda and watch her business grow and succeed.  PACE thanks The Pet Store for their business and contribution to economic development in the Patricia Region.

For more information on her business, visit the Facebook page below.

The Pet Store | Facebook

March- Featured Business (Dr. Tracey Guitard of Old Mill Dental Clinic)

dentist-chair-om old-mill-logo


PACE is happy to recognize Dr. Tracey Guitard of Old Mill Dental clinic located on Old Mill Road in Sioux Lookout as our feature business this quarter.

Tracey graduated in 2007 from the University of Buffalo, School of Dental Medicine with a Doctor of Dental Surgery, DDS.  There she received Awards in Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology and Implant Dentistry.  She started her career working in Thunder Bay as well as a locum dentist in Sioux Lookout.  She also spent time in international locum positions as far away as New Zealand in 2009-2010.  Working in these small communities made her realize how under serviced basic dental needs were. 

Her time in Sioux Lookout was very rewarding which ultimately brought her back to establish some roots and improve the lack of dental services for Sioux Lookout and the surrounding northern communities. In 2019, Dr. Guitard returned to the Old Mill Dental Clinic with the goal of purchasing the practice when the owner retired. She did just that in 2021 and committed to the area having purchased property close to the existing practice.  Her property has now become the location for the state-of-the-art clinic. The Old Mill Dental Clinic has brand new modern equipment including advanced computer hardware, panoramic imaging software, and has expanded to five patient operatories. Patients are welcomed by a large reception area with an incredible view of Abram Lake. Tracey has invested a significant amount of her own time and finances to begin the project but needed funding assistance for the renovations to complete the clinic and expand its services.  PACE was approached to assist and approved her request for funding to finish the project.       

The growth of employees has been a slow but steady progression for Old Mill Dental. From 2019- 2021 Dr. Guitard worked hard through the midst of covid times with a “bare bones” crew, Kayla Olson RDH and Sioux Lookout local who has been with Old Mill Dental in some capacity since 2007; starting her hygiene career in 2014, Kristen Hoey, Sioux local as well as office manager and Chris Koabel as a dental assistant. Presently the clinic has seven full time staff as well as four part-time, three of which are attending Sioux North High School. As well, Dr. Guitard has been delighted to have another Sioux local, Jessica Darling, working at the clinic in her off time. Jessica is currently attending school to become a dentist.

Dr. Guitard’s plan to expand the practice by bringing dentists, hygienists, and a denturist to assist in providing dental care for such a large catchment area is a necessary one. The Old Mill Dental Clinic provides care for patients coming from Hudson, Pickle Lake, as well as 28 First Nation communities in the Sioux Lookout region. Her collaboration with other dental professionals will allow her to grow and promote her business as well as support others in the process. PACE appreciates the opportunity to assist with this project for Tracey and the Old Mill Dental Clinic and is grateful for her contribution to economic development in the PACE catchment area including maintaining and creating jobs.  We wish her all the best for the future and congratulate her on much success in servicing her communities.  This is a welcome and vital addition to the Sioux Lookout area.

For more information on her business, visit the Facebook page below.

 Old Mill Dental Clinic | Facebook

December - Featured Business (Davis Clark of North Side Fabrication)

clark-davis                    northside-fab

PACE is thrilled to recognize Davis Clark of North Side Fabrication located in Vermilion Bay, ON as our feature business this quarter.

Davis came to PACE in early 2022 needing some help with his fabrication business. For a couple of years, he operated the business on a part time basis while working full time as a certified aircraft maintenance engineer. He is D17 Aerospace TIG welding certified, CWB industrial arc welding certified and has over 10 years welding experience.

He realized his part time business could become his full-time career all while operating from his home. Davis took the plunge and registered his business and decided to leave his job and operate the business full time. His financing need from PACE allowed him to purchase some new equipment that would enhance his business and give him the opportunity to fabricate products more efficiently saving him time and the ability to take on more projects including having inventory on hand.

North Side Fabrication specializes in custom orders and takes pride in being the only kind of business in the area that can build anything for anyone. The work Davis does is truly skilled. He has an eye for detail, making many custom orders personalized to the individual based on what they request along with his own design on many products. North Side Fabrication services a range of customers for repairs but the focus of the business is custom fabrication of products. The equipment purchased with the loan funds has played a huge role in the customizing, allowing him to do other things while the machine is working which speeds up productivity. This has also allowed him to have a small amount of stock at his shop along with having products in local retail store locations soon.

Davis comes from a family of business owners in the tourism sector so has an endless team of mentors to help him along the way. He has been a pleasure to work as a client and I look forward to also being a customer.

PACE appreciates the opportunity to assist with this endeavour for North Side Fabrication and is grateful for his contribution to economic development in the PACE catchment area. We wish him all the best for the future and congratulate him on such great success in such a short time. 

You can visit to contact Davis for more information on his products and repair services.

September - Featured Business (Parr's Jars)

   bobbi-parr                                        parrs-jars-logo

   Bobbie Parr: Owner Operator of Parr's Jars

PACE is pleased to recognize Bobbie Parr of Parrs Jars located on Princess Street in Dryden as our feature business this quarter. 

Bobbie came to PACE in 2020 with concerns about food security in Northwestern Ontario.  She comes from a background of community development and is passionate about growing the local food movement.

With the supply chain increasingly unstable, a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Bobbie has seen a need for more accessible ways to shop and support the local farm producers.  With many people staying home through 2020 and 2021, a need for online ordering and contactless pick up was preferred, especially for the vulnerable who wanted to avoid the larger grocery stores.  Since launching her website and opening her space on Princess Street, the business has flourished adding farm subscriptions and local food sales, educational programs and workshops, kitchen and cold storage rentals for local producers and she also grows food year-round at her small farm in Wabigoon.

Parrs Jars provides local vegetables all year long including micro greens, edible blossoms, pickles, seasonal garden vegetables and living greens.  Bobbie believes in supporting other local entrepreneurs and producers so also has non-homogenized dairy in glass jars from a Thunder Bay producer available for purchase through her website.Her main product she calls her GROW-cery subscription is very popular and keeps her busy throughout the seasons with changing products depending on what is available.  Customers are pleasantly surprised with the items they receive on a bi-weekly basis knowing the produce is local and fresh from different gardens.  Her collaboration with other producers allows her to grow and promote her business as well as support others in the process.

PACE appreciates the opportunity to assist with this project for Parrs Jars and is grateful for her contribution to economic development in the PACE catchment area.  We wish her all the best for the future of Parrs Jars and congratulate her on much success battling the food security issue in the region.

For more information on her business, visit her website

June - Featured Business (BEI Outfitters)

bei4                                 logo-bei

Eileen Williams: Owner Operator of BEI Outfitters

PACE is pleased to recognize Eileen Williams of BEI Outfitters located on Bear Paw Drive in Wabigoon as our feature business this quarter.  Eileen came to PACE during the COVID-19 pandemic filled with enthusiasm and confidence that she could provide sales of both summer and winter sporting gear in the form of kayaks, canoes, water toys and snowshoes. 

During the pandemic, more people were looking to spend time outdoors with family and the demand for this type of recreational equipment skyrocketed.  Eileen lives on the lake and is an avid outdoors person who saw a need for this type of business in the area.  There had been a supplier in Dryden previously that closed which left the closest similar type of business more than 3 hours away.

Starting up BEI Outfitters gave people the option to buy locally and save a trip to the city for these kinds of products.  Eileen and her husband built a small shop on their property to better serve customers and store their inventory.  Her lake front home is ideal for this business giving the option to advertise from her dock to the steady Wabigoon boat traffic.    Although her business has only been operating for a year, Eileen has already had great success and word is spreading about her products.  She has attended several trade shows and markets to gain more exposure and promote her small business.

We wish Eileen the greatest success and hope she will be serving the local community for years to come.  PACE thanks Eileen and BEI Outfitters for their business and contribution to economic development in the Patricia Region.


March - Featured Business (Four Seasons Footwear)

 justus-leschied-four-seasons-footwear                                                   four-seasons-pic4

Justus Leschied; Four Season's Footwear

Living in a small town like Dryden, Ontario, local businesses, and their owners can become like family especially if they have been around for 34 years.  It recently became public that Justice Leschied, owner of Four Seasons Footwear would be retiring and closing the well-known shoe store located in the downtown Midtown Square.  I thought this would be a wonderful opportunity to sit down with him and chat about how the journey began, the joys and challenges and his reflections of owning and operating the business for more than three decades.

Lil Leschied was the lady that started it all when she purchased the remaining stock from Ed’s Shoe Store in Dryden in 1987.  She always wanted to own a business so when the opportunity arose, she required some financial assistance to start up.  Surprisingly enough, she was able to secure funding through the PACE office, formerly in Ignace and used some personal finances to cover additional costs.  Her plan was to grow the business with an ideal location and larger floor space, which happened in 1992 when she moved the store to Whyte Avenue in the Midtown Square.  It was this year that Justice partnered with his wife to help with the business and strive to follow its mission statement of ‘supplying shoes of quality, comfort and style’.  Their combined commitment was to provide customer service in a professional and caring manner to clientele throughout Northwestern Ontario.  With dedicated, loyal staff of many years, the couple was able to meet this commitment and continued to serve Dryden and surrounding communities with quality footwear and impeccable service.  Lil and Justice enjoyed the many semi-annual trips away to the shoe trade shows to choose the next season’s hottest trends and styles, while also learning about marketing with integrity and the importance of proper comfortable footwear for all ages.

In 2003, sadly the beloved Lil passed away leaving behind Justice who continued to successfully operate the Dryden store to date.  He kept her dream alive and remained dedicated to providing quality footwear and excellent service to the retail community. 

Through the pandemic, the store was forced to close during the ongoing restrictions and lockdowns.  Since this type of business requires customers to try on the product, it was difficult to have curbside or a means to purchase online.  Justice always believed in face-to-face contact with his customers to provide great customer service.  He learned to budget through the pandemic keeping inventory low not knowing when the next lockdown would happen.  The pandemic was likely his greatest challenge while being in business.  He believed in maintaining a balance between personal life and business to be successful and taking vacation time to rest and rejuvenate so you are always at your best for your customers.

Unfortunately, he has now made the decision with deep regret to close the doors permanently after 34 years and finally retire.  He has three children and eight grandchildren that he is looking forward to spending more time with but will miss meeting new people in the store each day.  He stated that his job was more than just selling a product, it was meeting a need and he did that with professionalism and integrity.  The friendships over the years and loyal support were a great accomplishment for him at Four Seasons.

When I asked him what advice he had for a new business owner he replied that one needed to be critical in thinking, know and respect your competition, maintain balance, and invest in yourself.  Dream big but don’t let your dream cloud your reality.

It was a pleasure to sit down with Justice during his final month of business and learn the story of Four Seasons Footwear.  We congratulate Justice and the staff for their years of serving the community and wish him all the best in his well-deserved retirement.

August - Featured Business (The Northside Motel)


Owner & Operator Cindy Skene

PACE is pleased to recognize Cindy Skene of The Northside Motel in Vermilion Bay as our feature business.
Cindy came to PACE in 2014 for some assistance with the purchase of the local motel. It was at this time her regular job was being centralized and the position eliminated with the City of Dryden, so she had to find something to create a job for herself and an opportunity for retirement.
With her family’s help and support, Cindy achieved her goal to own and operate the business and has been improving it over the last six years.
She is happy to cater to weary travellers, hydro and construction workers, hockey teams and the many American fisherman that visit the area every summer. She operates the business smartly and effectively with only opening half the rooms in the slower months to save on expenses and work load.
With the unexpected situation of the COVID-19 pandemic, Cindy was proactive with looking ahead to where she may be and what measures to put in place to weather this financial loss. She continues to market her location and will take the precautions necessary to continue operating safely and efficiently.
We are happy to continue to work with Cindy and support the growth and success of her business. We thank Cindy and the Northside Motel for their business and contribution to economic development in the Patricia region.



February - Featured Business (Cloverbelt County Meats Cooperative)


L-R; BDC Noreen Cox | Board President Roger Griffiths

PACE recognizes and applauds Cloverbelt Country Meats Cooperative as our quarterly feature business.

The Co-op president came to us in the summer of 2018 with the hopes that PACE could help fund the upgrades to the former Griffiths Country Meats abattoir. The abattoir had been in danger of closing when the owners decided to retire but were unable to find a buyer. The concern for the owners was that if no one purchased and it closed, it would be difficult to re-open due to OMAFRA meat plant licensing requirements. The CCM Co-op was then formed by a group of local farmers to keep the facility running and avoid permanent closure. The facility, however, needed upgrades to meet new OMAFRA standards. Some of the upgrades included new drainage systems, equipment and integration of new technologies and computer software. These enhancements increased efficiency and production capacity while lowering operating costs and improving energy efficiency. The co-op was the recipient of an approved NOHFC grant from the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines to help with the expansion and revitalization. In order to receive the grant funds, purchases had to be made first and then receipts submitted for reimbursement of the grant funds. PACE stepped in to help bridge the financing to start the project’s first phase in order for the grant funds to start rolling in for the next project or equipment purchase. It was not always easy to get the work completed quickly with weather, labour shortage and waiting on parts for various jobs, but the abattoir is now functioning and has seen great improvements in the efficiency of operations so far.

A significant portion of the local area residents access the abattoir as well as producers and consumers from across the region. While it is difficult to estimate the exact number that will benefit from the completion of this project, it is fair to say it could be in the thousands. Between farming, First Nations and tourism communities, hundreds of people rely on the abattoir to process livestock and wild game. As a whole, the success of the expansion and revitalization will ensure local farmers are able to continue their way of life and pass on these family farm businesses to the next generation.

The outcome and benefits of this project included the retention of 3 full time, 8 part time, and 2 seasonal employees plus created 1 full time and 5 part time jobs.

We wish the Cloverbelt Country Meats Co-op much success upon completion of this important project and the future of the abattoir.
We thank them for their business and contribution to economic development in the PACE catchment area with creating jobs and investing in this necessary infrastructure.

October - Featured Business (Highway Dollar & More)


L-R; BDC Noreen Cox | Owner & Operator Michelle Desautels

It is with great pleasure that PACE recognizes Michelle Desautels of “Highway Dollar & More” located in Dryden as our feature business.
Michelle came to PACE in the spring of 2018 filled with enthusiasm and confidence that she could re-open the Dollar Store on Highway 17.
Michelle has an extensive background working in the retail industry and knows the value of excellent customer service. The store operates in the busy Golden Mile Plaza with over 1900 square feet of operating space.
It carries a variety of affordable merchandise from crafts, stationary, flowers, and household products including a small canned food section, beauty supplies, gifts, electronics, toys, seasonal items for all occasions, pet supplies and party needs. The store is clean, friendly and offers something for everyone of all ages, gender and income levels.
Michelle recognized that people were missing this novelty store with affordable prices along the highway and wanted to bring it back to life.
We are so happy that Hwy Dollar & More has added to the traffic flow in the small mini mall and Michelle has been able to create jobs in the community with this endeavour.
We wish Michelle the greatest success and hope she will be serving the local community for years to come.
PACE thanks Michelle and Hwy Dollar & More for their business and contribution to economic development in the Patricia Region.



March - Featured Business (Your Choice Catering)


L-R; BDC Noreen Cox | Yvonne Lozej

PACE is thrilled to recognize Yvonne Lozej of Your Choice Catering in Dryden as our Feature business.

Yvonne came to PACE just last fall with the idea of opening a small catering business and supplying the community with an alternative to restaurant meals or cooking at home. Yvonne has a vast knowledge of the food industry with her experience as a cook for many years at the TransCanada Restaurant, operating the canteen at the local baseball field over the years as well as her current employment at the Dryden Regional Health Centre. Her experience and organization along with her love of cooking was a perfect Fit for this new type of business in our little city.

If you are a parent with children in sports, a busy entrepreneur or simply would like to try some good home cooking, Your Choice Catering is the business to check out. Yvonne keeps is equipped to handle about 80 meals on any given day for pick up. The meals are homemade and by the outpour of raving on social media, they are delicious. She also has a catering menu to appease any function or even a basic lunch for an office.

We are so happy that Your Choice Catering has exploded in a short time to be a successful small business. We wish Yvonne the greatest success and hope she will be serving the local community for years to come.

PACE thanks Yvonne and Your Choice Catering for their business and contribution to economic development in the Patricia Region.

December - Featured Business (Second Chance Pet Network)


L-R; BDC Noreen Cox | Volunteer at SCPN Nancy Bolton

PACE is pleased to recognize Ann Owens and her volunteers of Second Chance Pet Network as this quarter’s feature business.
Ann has had a long-standing working relationship with PACE that started in 2012 when she first approached PACE for some lending to help with building their current facility.
They were determined to have the loan paid off early and succeeded, giving them an opportunity to apply for funding on a second project for the shelter.
They are now happy to announce that a generator system is in place should any type of power outage occur during any season to ensure animals have
heat or A/C as needed and necessary access to water.
Second Chance Pet Network has become a highly respected organization in Northwestern Ontario and has nothing but the greatest intentions for the care and treatment of the animals in the facility. They help control the pet population by educating the community and subsidizing spaying and neutering for low income families.
PACE appreciates Ann and her amazing crew of selfless volunteers at Second Chance Pet network for their business and contributions to economic development in the Patricia Region.
We wish you continued prosperity for many years to come serving the community and rescuing those helpless, homeless animals in need.



October - Featured Business (Ryder Inc.)


L-R; BDC Noreen Cox | Owner & Operator Ben Cathcart

PACE is pleased to recognize Ben Cathcart of Ryder Inc. as our feature business.
He came to PACE just last year with a request to purchase a vehicle for his delivery business. Formerly Bri-Mar, Ben already had an established clientele and was determined to offer the same great service under the new business name which he has succeeded in doing. PACE was able to assist with a loan, so Ben could own the vehicle instead of leasing which would free up some revenue. Since opening, Ben has created employment for himself and two other full-time employees. Ben and his staff can be seen consistently driving through town and neighboring communities delivering anticipated packages and are always friendly and smiling. We are pleased to continue to work with Ben and watch the business grow and continue to be successful. PACE appreciates
Ben from Ryder Inc. for his business and contributions to economic development in the Patricia Region. We wish you continued prosperity for many years to come serving the community.


April - Featured Business (Ignace White Otter Inn)


L-R; BDC Noreen Cox | Owner & Operators Alpanaben & Chetankumar Patel

PACE is pleased to recognize Alpanaben and Chetankumar Patel at the Ignace White Otter Inn as our feature business.
The couple came to PACE two years ago with hopes of pursuing a dream of owning a business in Canada. The opportunity came up in Ignace to purchase the Ignace White Otter Inn which they believed was a good place to enjoy self-employment and raise their family.

Although they had very little experience with hotel operation, they had family who own and operate hotels, and provided them with support and advice if needed.

PACE was able to assist them with the purchase of the 20 room motel situated on the TransCanada Highway in the Town of Ignace. They created jobs for themselves along with a part-time position for a local resident. We are pleased to continue to work with Alpanaben and Chetankumar and watch their business grow and continue to be successful.

PACE thanks the Ignace White Otter Inn for their business and contribution to economic development in the Patricia Region.

December - Featured Business (The Pet Store)


L-R; BDC Noreen Cox | Owner & Operator Rhonda Gouliquer

PACE is pleased to recognize Rhonda Gouliquer of The Pet Store in Dryden as our feature business.
Rhonda came to PACE in 2016 with the hope of purchasing the existing business from the current owners. Rhonda had been employed at The Pet Store for 3 years and had a full grasp of what to expect from the business. PACE was able to assist Rhonda with the purchase of the corporation in its entirety with a plan to expand by adding a tub for grooming larger pets and a u-bath station where customers can use the facility to bath their own pets. The store is located on Earl Avenue and is the only store of its kind in Dryden and surrounding area.

They carry a diverse line of supplies to meet client’s needs and sell premium food, treats, toys and fish. They offer competitive prices for dog food and offer a buy 12 get 1 free on most products. With this being the only pet store in the area Rhonda and the store are a valuable asset to the community and surrounding region. Rhonda truly has a passion for animals and the success of her business.

We are pleased to continue to work with Rhonda and watch her business grow and continue to be successful. PACE thanks The Pet Store for their business and contribution to economic development in the Patricia Region.



September - Featured Business (Great Northern Gunworks)


L-R; BDC Noreen Cox | Owner & Operator Gary Beardsley

PACE is pleased to recognize Gary Beardsley at Great Northern Gunworks as our feature business.

Gary came to PACE four years ago with many years of managing experience and a vision to bring a new business to Vermilion Bay.

Gary has been an avid gun collector and hobby gunsmith for most of his life and saw a need for this type of business in this area. PACE was able to assist the business with construction of a shop, and the purchase of specialized equipment needed to provide the professional delivery of his service.

His site is situated on the TransCanada highway between Thunder Bay and Winnipeg in Vermilion Bay, central to significant population of sports enthusiasts, hunters, tourist resorts and gun clubs.
PACE thanks Great Northern Gunworks for their business and contribution to economic development in the Patricia Region.