My ears were burning!!! I can hear it now “Why are you picking on poor Kevin Lloyd, at least he’s doing something. All you do is rant and pontificate Nobody. You have no solutions!!!”
Strangely enough I have been thinking about this situation for a while now. Since the factories started closing down. I have a few ideas which I will share with you over a couple of posts.
The first thing to do is hire a person as the economic development manager for the Town of Collingwood. I can’t believe we haven’t had one for over 2 years. This person would have a proven track record running and promoting a business or businesses. They would be at the tail end of their career path and looking for something to keep their mind active and a new challenge. The base salary for this position would be minimal. Toped up with bonuses and incentives all result based. I know that this would be hard for a local government to get its head around, because as we have all found out, most levels of government hate accountability. They prefer to stick someone in an office with a job title then forget about them, but later on be able to say they are trying to fix the problem.
So what type of things would the new EDM do?
1. Figure out then target what types of businesses we want to attract – Think Sensortech not Goodyear. Or brew pubs rather than Back Yard Products. GY and BYP were way too dependent on the whims of large parent companies that will move production to other jurisdictions at a moment’s notice. Look no further than Heinz down south for proof.
2. When item #1 Is figured out, every time anyone registers a company in Ontario in the targeted fields, they get a call from our EDM saying “Have you thought about locating your business in Collingwood”. This would eventually expand to the rest of Canada.
3. Negotiate with Blue Mountain resort to have a permanent “Come to Collingwood” display/booth promoting living and working in Collingwood in the convention centre.
4. Branding. We need a catchy slogan something like “Collingwood – We are more than skiing and Elvis”. Then expand on it.
5. Attend trade shows and trumpet the benefits of living in this town.
6. EDM would have a pocket full of financial incentives (which I will get into in a later post) this town will be offering to new businesses who are prepared to commit to 5 years in Collingwood.
The EDM would not immediately get a big fancy office like Lloyd is trying to set up. That is just a license for constant blab fests and endless strategy sessions, bureaucrats love to fill their days with. A desk, a computer and a phone. Plus a well-managed expense account. I suggest that economic development can’t be achieved in the bowels of town hall. It has to be sold on the road like any other product.
By the way I can think of a number of different people that would be well suited for and would love the above challenge.
My next post will deal with financial incentives.