Businesses do not come to town just because we want them to, and there is plenty of competition for good commercial ventures and good paying jobs in communities with better reputations than Collingwood for being open to new business.
As a start, here is what I would propose. The Town, via our new Economic Development Director Martin Rydlo and the Business Development Centre would take the lead on a symposium to bring the best minds (and pockets) in the area together to brainstorm an Economic Development strategy for Collingwood and its extended market. Invitees would include The Georgian Triangle Development Institute, The Georgian Angel Network – a business development network connecting venture capital investors with entrepreneur-innovators, the newly established Henry Bernick Entrepreneurship Centre, plus local business leaders, especially recent start-ups, banks, and other local government representatives, even federal and provincial representatives.
In this way, the three key areas of support needed to attract and retain new business are covered – finance and investment, training and education, and political and legislative environment.
The exciting thing to me about such a symposium is that not only would it create a list of strategies and tactics to attract desirable businesses in sectors that fit in our communities, it would send a message that Collingwood is open for business and is being proactive about it.
Not a short answer Nobody, but I am excited about the notion of the Town of Collingwood undertaking such an important symposium – shows leadership!
Brian Saunderson (Candidate for Deputy Mayor)
Economic development is a critical issue for our community and one which the current Council has only recently tried to address. It is not enough to create an economic development office and expect new businesses will come to us. I do not believe that there is any single solution or that a bunch of isolated ideas can effectively address this issue. Before any significant progress can be achieved on the economic development front, we must have a comprehensive and sustainable plan for Collingwood’s economic future. Hilary Clinton paraphrased Benjamin Franklin when she said, “Fail to plan, plan to fail” and the current Council’s track record speaks to the truth of this statement. The next Council must take the time, energy and initiative to engage in a rigorous planning process to make informed and strategic decisions on this issue. We need to identify the strengths and weaknesses in our local economy, build on the strengths and address the weaknesses. We need to determine the best way to grow our economy and then actively and aggressively pursue that strategy. We must work at actively marketing our Town to recruit suitable and sustainable new businesses that will become new employers. There may be many components to the plan, but we need to have a plan before we can start to effectively build a stronger local economy in a sustainable and coordinated way.
Very difficult to keep an answer simple in a discussion about Economic Development. In a general sense we have to prioritize determining what steps need to be taken to make Collingwood the ultimate “destination” location. In a more specific sense my response is that the municipality has to ensure that their Long term Vision and Strategic Financial Plan prioritizes the infrastructure needs for issues like waterfront development and that the best possible transportation (vehicle, pedestrian, biking etc) system is in place.
Currently then off the top of my head the short answer would be a solid community backed waterfront plan. Going into a councilor role in November I will be looking to staff to guide us on this. It certainly appears that the harbour front is the leading issue to settle in this regard.
For Economic and Destination Development it is very important that municipal staff are empowered to take forward our plans and create economic development opportunities. But we must also ensure that we are in constant communication with our existing businesses to help them at least sustain their current situation or better it. The actual new Economic and Destination Development initiatives will mostly come from developers and one of the strongest tools we can provide them with is a solid plan or plans so they know as best possible how the municipality expects to proceed.
Probably not as specific of an answer as one would be hoping for here but it is complicated and we know that Collingwood has been going through a state of flux for some time in its Economic Development Department and committee structure. I anticipate this topic to be a priority item for the new council to have to deal with very quickly, to find out what current council has been doing to try to correct this, so that more specific plans can be put in place to enhance those that our staff and developers have to work with now.
Chris Carrier Candidate for Mayor
Economic development can be described as a process that influences growth and restructuring of an economy to enhance the economic well-being of a community.
In the broadest sense, economic development encompasses three major areas:
• Policies that government undertakes to meet broad economic objectives including inflation control, high employment and sustainable growth.
• Policies and programs to provide services including building highways, managing parks and providing medical access to the disadvantaged
• Policies and programs explicitly directed at improving the business climate through specific efforts, business finance, marketing, neighborhood development, business retention and expansion, technology transfer, real estate development and others
I believe that Collingwood Council can and should use Section 28 of the Planning Act to its advantage in realizing opportunities for businesses to grow and to attract new business growth into Collingwood by creating what is known as Community Improvement Plan areas.
The definition of community improvement is very broad, the planning or re-planning, design or redesign, re-subdivision, clearance, development or redevelopment, construction, reconstruction and rehabilitation, improvement of energy efficiency, or any of them, of a community improvement project area, and the provision of such residential, commercial, industrial, public, recreational, institutional, religious, charitable or other uses, buildings, structures, works, improvements or facilities, or spaces therefore, as may be appropriate or necessary.
Essentially the Community Improvement Plan (CIP) allows the municipality to use various tools to partner with development in order to let developments that are stalled or delayed to move forward. Tax Increment Financing (TIF) is one such tool. TIF is based on anticipated growth of property tax revenue generated by the increased property value from development or redevelopment. TIF is initially revenue neutral but then positive revenue for municipality.
Grants or loans for specific costs can also be provided by the municipality for the cost of environmental site assessment, environmental remediation, development, redevelopment, construction, reconstruction or lands and buildings for rehabilitation purposes. Grants cannot exceed costs of rehabilitation.
Development Charges (DCs) are a significant cost and how and when they are applied can also provide incentive to development. Techniques that could be used in a DC by-law to encourage development are exempting certain classes of development from DCs. The phasing in of DCs and increases, late payment agreements and no DCs or lower rates in Community Improvement Plan can also be used to move stalled developments or facilitate new development.
The former Good Year property, the Ship Yard properties, the Strand development site, a new site for the Collingwood General and Marine Hospital in the John DiPoce 135 acre business site (that is where the Georgian College Campus is located), the Admiral development are just some of our development sites that can provide new assessment growth and much needed jobs to Collingwood. There are plenty of opportunities to kick start growth in a very positive way for Collingwood but it will take the necessary political will to get things done for our Town and I am willing and wanting to lead with Council and Staff to do just that.