Owen Sound Council’s Economic Growth Strategies

Monday, December 1, Owen Sound’s new council will be sworn into office, beginning their 2014-2018 term

The Grey Bruce Business Journal asked the new council,

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

We are awaiting responses from Councillor Peter Lemon.

 

Mayor-elect Ian Boddy

Mayor Ian Boddy

‘I have a plan to help grow our economy. Parts of it focus on enhancing established business and parts aim for new business.

Other Ontario communities are facing the same challenges we are but are managing better and are experiencing higher growth.

1. Establish ‘Best Practices’ Strategy

Other Ontario communities are facing the same challenges we are but are managing better and are experiencing higher growth. We should not only look at what they are doing but also build partnerships with others to ensure we’re doing things the best way possible.

2. Re-Engage and Activate the Community

The City needs to be seen as a facilitator of services, not always as a provider. We need to engage and partner with others in the community who have expertise and fresh ideas. For example, the hospitality industry has a vested interest in promoting tourism. We all need to work together to move forward again.

3. Pursue Broadband Economies

We’re living in the Information Age. More and more Owen Sounders are working and making a good living in the Information Technology sector. Along with our college and private businesses, we must establish a Centre for Innovation and Creativity to further develop our local initiatives and technology industries. We need to secure high speed connections. Much of our industry relies on high quantities of data transfer and need to be able to do so faster. We must ensure higher data transfer rates as soon as possible for existing and future business growth.

4. Expand Health Sector

We have the desirable lifestyle and attributes to attract Boomers and the jobs that come with them. Our largest employer and the fastest job growth sector in Ontario is Health Services. We have a regional hospital and a college with health services programs. The City must seize this opportunity. A Health Services Mayor’s Round Table should be established to develop a plan to enhance this sector spurring development and job growth.

Owen Sound has untapped potential to attract new residents.

5. Attract New Residents

Owen Sound has untapped potential to attract new residents. Many will move here from within the region for services and cultural activities. We must also attract people leaving the large cities. A marketing strategy must be implemented to ensure we reach out to those people.

6. Celebrate our Community

We’re approaching 2017 when we will mark Canada’s 150th Anniversary and Owen Sound will turn 160. It will also mark the 100th Anniversary of Billy Bishop receiving the Victoria Cross and the 100th Anniversary of Tom Thomson’s death. And for a hiking trek, the Bruce Trail will turn 50 and will provide a great opportunity for regional cooperation and celebration. This will be a great opportunity to build a tourism legacy for Owen Sound that will benefit us in future years.’ Mayor Ian Boddy

 

Arlene Wright

Deputy Mayor Arlene Wright

‘Major Issues facing business owners in Grey Bruce include low cost of living which results in low wages, therefor unable to hire qualified workers, Government paper work, Federal and Provincial taxes, and local business taxes.’
Deputy Mayor Arlene Wright

 

Travis Dodd - Owen Sound Council Candidate

Councillor Travis Dodd

‘I believe our region must work in collaboration on economic growth that caters to the strengths of our area. The development of our region as a whole is dependent on the co-operation amongst all parties. I believe what is positive for one community, generally reflects positively with the surrounding municipalities as well. Therefore as a region we need to recognize the prosperous sectors and aim our initiatives towards them as a whole.

That being said, at the municipal level we must continue to ensure all services are in place to support our existing businesses as well as become a viable location for new ventures.’ Councillor Travis Dodd

 

Councillor-elect Scott Greig

Councillor Scott Greig

‘Firstly, I will bring forth a competitive, customer service driven persona to city council. I have demonstrated that operating our own business. I compete locally, regionally and globally due to the internet and realize the requirement to establish relationships with customers. That is what business is to the municipality. It is a customer and I would treat as such.

An issue facing the area is the lack of high speed capacity. I would examine what can be done with the communications providers and for instance if a facility was required to facilitate expansion of high speed within our municipality work to make it happen.

Owen Sound has various properties which are not in use. A solution may be to utilize one of these properties and as such at a deal beneficial to the communications provider. But if the net result is enhancing the capabilities of existing businesses to stay in Owen Sound or lure new ones then I would deem that a success.

Many candidates may suggest establishing round tables, having daytime public consultations or so forth however I realize that the individuals driving business are occupied with growing their business. Rather than focusing on future round table establishment which sounds good, if business tells me taxes are too high then my focus on council is not a round table to look at taxes, it is to examine municipal spending and resist more tax increases. I am a results oriented individual and I would bring that decisiveness to council.’
Councillor Scott Greig

 

Marion Koepke

Councillor Marion Koepke

‘I feel Owen Sound needs to recognize its “size” and focus on our “better qualities” making this the place we want to live. We need to look at what we can offer our neighbouring municipalities and what they can offer us.’
Councillor Marion Koepke

 

Jim McManaman - Owen Sound City Council

Councillor Jim McManaman

‘Over the last 8 years, Owen Sound has reduced the tax ratios for all business classes. The industrial tax ratio has seen significant reductions of over 14%…commercial tax ratios have been reduced at a similar rate…all in an effort to make those sectors more competitive with the rest of the province and stimulate economic growth. That work continues. Assessment growth, both business and residential, is key for the City’s financial future.’ Councillor Jim McManaman

 

Councillor-elect Brian O'Leary

Councillor Brian O’Leary

‘Working relationships have to be improved with our neighbours. Locally, there are barriers that are in the way of new business coming here. We need to make it easier to start a business by having guidelines that can be adjusted on an individual basis, as opposed to policies that say “our way or no way.” ‘
Councillor Brian O’Leary   

 

Richard Thomas - Owen Sound Council Candidate

Councillor Richard Thomas

‘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.’ Councillor Richard Thomas

 

The Grey Bruce Business Journal also asked,
‘Tell us a little about your background and overall platform.’

Do you think local business taxes are at a fair rate, or should be lowered or raised? Should there be any changes in the municipal services provided to businesses, (such as garbage removal)?’

‘What do you see has been the largest challenge over the last 10 years, faced by business operators in your region?’

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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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