Award-Winning Local Author Contends for Seat on Council

Richard Thomas - Owen Sound Council Candidate

Richard Thomas – Owen Sound Council Candidate

First of all, tell us a little about your background and overall platform in 100 words or less.

I worked in communications for 35 years, the last 15 as the owner of my own company. I have been on the Public Library Board for 11 years, 7 as chair; I am on the Hospital Foundation Board and I have been part of the MRI and Cancer Campaigns; I worked on the Rec Centre campaign; and I have been President of the group that saved the Marine and Rail Museum.

I am running on a campaign of community engagement, municipal partnerships, responsible spending, and support for the hospital, college and culture. Owen Sound can be more than it is.

What do you see as the major issue(s) facing business-owners in Grey-Bruce?

Through my media work I have gotten to know many business owners throughout Grey and Bruce Counties. I think there are a couple of issues that affect most: taxes and the lack of support from our local communities.

The only solution for the taxation issue is to elect creative thinkers who can find new ways to generate revenue to help offset taxation. This election will be an excellent opportunity to do that. Owen Sound, has significant excess sewer and water capacity. That can generate significant revenue for the city if we market that service to neighbours who may want it, and in turn offset the rising costs of those services to city homeowners.

The first key to rescuing our local economy is for all of us to support local business first. I will work with my fellow councilors to address the municipal purchasing policy, to ensure local businesses are supported.The other issue that has a major impact is the soft community support for local businesses. People will drive to Orangeville to save a couple of hundred dollars on a car without thinking of the impact of that decision. Local car dealerships employ local people who shop at local stores and pay taxes in their local communities. Your support of those businesses supports the entire community, and it’s the same in every sector of our local economy.

Many years ago the Rotary Club sent me to Germany on an exchange trip. The most important lesson I learned was the secret of their strong economy: Germans buy German. Everybody spends as much of their money as possible in their local communities. The first key to rescuing our local economy is for all of us to support local business first. I will work with my fellow councilors to address the municipal purchasing policy, to ensure local businesses are supported.

What strategies do you have in mind to stimulate economic growth in the region?

Grey County is working on a new economic development strategy, and I will encourage my fellow councilors to support a region-wide economic development approach. One important initiative could be the creation of a regional economic development board responsible for promoting all of Grey County. By taking this leadership role, the County could help eliminate competition among lower tier municipalities. At the same time, it would lessen some of the pressure on cash strapped municipalities like Owen Sound, allowing a reallocation of funds to other important areas like infrastructure maintenance.

I would like to encourage all levels of municipal government in our region to adopt a ‘local first’ purchasing policy. Support for local business must start at the top.

Do you feel economic growth should focus on:

A) Bringing in new business developments, or

B) Encouraging small businesses presently in operations?

Both. We need to support the people who are already doing business here, but at the same time we need to work at expanding our tax base, and that means seeking out new business to the region.

Business does well when the economy is doing well. Locally, we have been focused on how to manage with shrinking resources when we need to focus on how to increase the number of businesses and people in our region.

Locally, we have been focused on how to manage with shrinking resources when we need to focus on how to increase the number of businesses and people in our region.Do you think local business taxes should be:

A) Increased

B) Decreased

C) Maintained at current levels

I think we would all like our taxes to go down. But it seems to be in the nature of taxation that it only goes in one direction. Up.

If we can increase our assessment through business and development, I know that the entire community can benefit. The more people we can attract to our community to pay taxes, the greater the possibility that taxes could be lower.

Should there be any changes in the services offered to local businesses?

That question can be answered through a change in the relationship between the business community and the City. We need to foster more open lines of communication. I would like to see a working group of representatives from business, industry and the City Council that could meet regularly and work together on issues of mutual concern, such as levels of services. The outcomes of this new approach would be specific and measurable: improved communications; a better understanding of positions in advance of new policies; and a proactive approach to issues in Owen Sound that affect everyone.

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Basics of Bookkeeping (Three part workshop)
Tuesday September 19th and 26th and Tuesday October 3rd, 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Business Enterprise Centre Training Room $95 (HST included)
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This three part Bookkeeping Workshop will allow you to use the tools and information to confidently understand your financial statements and your own books. Class size is limited to 8 to allow a hands-on, individual learning opportunity for everyone.

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How to “Really” Start a Business
Wednesday September 20th, 9:00 am – 11:30 am, Bayshore Community Centre
FREE – Pre-registration is required
Facilitator: Cliff Bilyea
Discover the basic steps involved in starting a business, evaluating your idea, determining your market and basic rules and regulations. Attending the is workshop is mandatory for anyone applying to the Starter Company Plus Program.

Business Enterprise Centre Workshops

Introduction to Quick Books (Two part workshop)
Tuesday October 17th and 24th, 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Business Enterprise Centre Training Room, $80 (HST Included)
Instructor: Jane Gallagher
The first session of Quick Books provides participants with an overview and access to a trial version of the program. The second session will be questions and answers to address specific issues. Knowledge of basic bookkeeping principles is required. Limited to 8, you must bring your own laptop. (This workshop does not cover the online version of Quick Books)

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Phone: 519 371 7464
Fax: 519 371 4043
Site: gbbj.biz
Email: editor@gbbj.biz
Address: 954 1st Ave W.
Owen Sound, ON CAN N4K 4K5

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