Economic Development

Wendy on Economic Development in Carleton Place When considering economic development in Carleton Place, we have to accept a couple of issues that have a key influence on any of the work that we want to undertake to promote the economic development of our community. I take it as a given that working to ensure that there are local jobs available for our citizens is a valid goal for our Council and our Town government. This goal must be tempered by the fact that Carleton Place is a bedroom community to Ottawa and that is where the majority of the higher value-added jobs in the area will be located. This is an inescapable reality. In my view, we must also accept that job creation in our in Carleton Place is not the responsibility of the Council or the Town government. The Town may be one of the largest employers, but this is not likely to grow in the foreseeable future – it will not be a significant contributor to new job creation in Carleton Place, which is a goal we want to pursue. The Council and the Town has, however, the important task of fostering and facilitating a business environment in Carleton Place that promotes the creation of employment opportunities here. Job creation, itself, is the task of the individual businesses and entrepreneurs in Carleton Place. The Council and Town are key partners in this process. During my tenure as mayor over the past four years, a town economic development co-ordinator has been hired. Jasmin Ralph works with local businesses to improve the business climate and our industrial parks and has been very active in setting up business mentoring programs that provide free advice to local entrepreneurs; we have programs that encourage home business start-ups and women entrepreneurs. She created an economic development website. We contribute financially to a façade improvement on our main street and we are active in prospecting for new businesses to locate in our town. Business promotion documentation has been prepared and is widely circulated to prospective investors. As a result of these initiatives, we have had some success in a very difficult market where we compete for business with other municipalities in the area, including Ottawa. We have experienced an $85M assessment growth in the first three years of my mandate, welcomed several new industries including Eastway Tank and Sam Bat, and saw expansion in a number of industries including Dica, Rose Integration, Norcan Hydraulics, and Triacta. However, we cannot measure success on simply the number of new businesses or jobs that have been created. The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture Food and Rural Affairs has created the Measuring Up! Program designed to assess the efficiency and effectiveness of programs we currently have in place. Following completion of that process, I intend to call for the creation of an economic development strategic plan with input from commercial and industrial business owners, the Chamber of Commerce and the BIA as well as results from the Measuring Up! program. Another economic reality we face is the larger retail businesses located in the McNeely Avenue area. Many people feel that these stores are detrimental to the businesses in our downtown core. I suggest that we need to look at these larger commercial developments more positively. They contribute significant taxes to the town and provide many employment opportunities for our citizens. Competition is a driving force in the economy and we cannot prevent that- it is a positive force for change and continuous improvement. Over my next term, I want us to work with our downtown core merchants to determine ways and means of using these competitive forces as a driver to make our downtown core businesses more sustainable. Over the next four years, I intend to work with the business owners and the BIA to see what can be done to improve the viability and variety of our downtown commerce. The challenge of competition is constant and we need to use it to our advantage to the benefit of our community. There are other areas of activity in our community that can contribute to our economic development and well-being and I intend to give these priority over the next four years. The waterfront and other recreational areas are our town jewels. They are underutilized. During my next four years, I want to develop a comprehensive, long term strategy that will upgrade these areas and promote greater use of these facilities by our residents. As we improve the experience of using these key areas of our town for recreation, this will prove a tourism magnet for people in surrounding areas to come to Carleton Place, use the beach and other recreational areas and spend money on products and services in our downtown core. Better use of our waterfront can be an important contributor to downtown economic development. Another key component of our community development strategy is land acquisition. During my last four years as Mayor, we have acquired over several hundred acres of prime land for future use for residential, commercial, and recreational uses. Over the next 15 years by a conservative estimate, this means many more millions of dollars of new assessment - tax revenue to our town which can be used to keep our tax increases reasonable and spend on community infrastructure and other projects. This will also mean over 2000 new homeowners and their families who will spend a significant amount of their disposable income in Carleton Place, promoting the viability of our businesses and creating new employment. My plans and commitment to economic development in our town over the next four years will set the groundwork for success for many years to come.