Sarnia Council Update on City Economic Development

Content of the article

About a year and a half after its inception, the Sarnia Economic Development Department has helped raise $2.5 million in grants and developed plans for things like the city’s waterfront and airport, has said the director of the service.

Content of the article

He also created investsarnia.ca to help potential investors learn about the municipality, hired a contract position to help local downtown and Mitton Village businesses grow, is working on supply chain mapping with Lambton College through the Sarnia Civic Lab partnership, and is working with the Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership (SLEP) to attract new investment to the community, Kelly Provost said in a recent update to City Council.

But more funding for staff and travel costs will be needed if the city is to more aggressively woo businesses to invest locally, she said.

“If business retention and expansion is going to be the focus of this department, it has the right resources to be able to do that right now,” she said of the three-staff department, including the contract position of one year until February 2023.

“If there are additional expectations beyond that, then it would be at the discretion of the board to prioritize with respect to budget deliberations,” she said.

These comments came in response to a question from Coun. Mike Stark asked if the department could do more, given that the municipality has not seen the level of attraction of commercial investment like London and Strathroy-Caradoc.

“What we’re responsible for is creating an environment for attracting industries, which apparently from our results we haven’t done a very good job of,” Stark said.

Content of the article

The department is still “in its infancy” and raising awareness in the community about its existence as support, Provost said, noting that the department is tracking leads regarding potential community investments through SLEP and the website.

“In terms of attracting investment, it’s a long-term game, it’s an expensive game, but it’s a big payoff game when there are hits,” she said.

Business retention and expansion is a key goal for the department, she said.

“That’s where the bulk of our department’s efforts need to go, because that’s where communities would traditionally see the bulk of new investment and job creation,” she said, adding that means creating an environment conducive to private investment.

Other highlights from the department at Provost’s recent strategic priorities meeting presentation include a port feasibility study currently underway with research assistance from Laurier University MBA students, plans from June 10 to create a community space in the Mitton Village municipal parking lot with eight painted picnic tables and donations to charities on behalf of artists and working with the community on things like resident attraction , physician recruitment, tourism and community sustainability.

There are plans to draft funding plans for the recommendations in airport, waterfront and business park plans for the 2023 budget process, she said.

“The city’s economic development initiative over the past two years has been nothing short of excellent and strategic,” although details of what is happening behind the scenes in many cases cannot yet be made public, the official said. Mayor Mike Bradley.

“But it’s a much more coordinated strategic effort, and I’ve seen a huge difference,” he said. “So it’s appreciated.”

[email protected]