Launch of Business Visits and Lead Program

February 7, 2013 Check Against Delivery Good morning, Ladies and Gentlemen: It has been said that a thriving local economy is one of the greatest benefits that a Council can offer to its community – both its citizens and its businesses. And, even though the municipality per se does not create a great number of jobs, the focus of council, its vision, its decisions, its supporting staff, its investments in infrastructure – to name just a few -  have a significant impact on the present, and more importantly, the future economic strength of the community. During the 2010 election, Economic Development was one of the issues that most candidates touched on, and certainly, for those of us who were successful, to a person we all promised to encourage planned economic development and growth, to hire an economic development officer, and to revitalize the downtown core. When it came time to move forward on our economic development promises, reality set in. We knew that while we had the budget to cover the salary, we did not have our ducks in a row in order to be able to encourage new industrial growth or even, for that matter, expansion of what we already had. We just were not ready for the town to be successful in a highly competitive market. So, we acquired more land in Industrial Park North annexing 30 acres from Mississippi Mills, created a plan for infrastructure in the area – at first tentative, and now, working with a developer in the area, modified – and we had studies conducted to ascertain the capabilities of the sewer and water system for areas of future growth. We hired the company, Doyletech to develop an Industrial Strategy and a Downtown Corridor Enhancement Plan.  We also created a Community Development Committee, comprised of business owners, Chamber and BIA staff, residents, town staff, and council members to work to put a new community economic development plan and strategy in place.  This is an umbrella committee with a number of subcommittees each charged with making decisions about various aspects of economic development including industrial initiatives, downtown initiatives, tourism, community programming initiatives and so on. We also annexed properties from Beckwith Township that included hundreds of acres for residential growth – we all know that increased residential growth is the driver for increased commercial growth.  We annexed Roy Brown Park as well and you can see how the Mississippi Valley Conservation headquarters are nearing completion. The extension to McNeely Avenue joining Highways 7 and 15 is a very large project with long term implications for the town.  Initially 200 acres of residential and highway commercial properties will be opened for development, and we have also acquired an additional 35 acres of employment land west of the Highway 15 and McNeely Avenue extension, which will be named the Captain A. Roy Brown Boulevard junction. Critical to both the physical and fiscal health of the community is our hospital.  Council, in partnership with the redevelopment committee of CPDMH, have worked very hard, especially political lobbying, for the redevelopment to move forward. How well have we done? Firstly, it is important to note that  our town, its businesses, its residents, and indeed, its Council are so well served with an exceptionally talented and dedicated management team, our senior staff – they are truly second to none, with the result that Carleton Place is second to none in terms of stability, and its consistently very high standards of financial management;  I am not exaggerating- these statements are made annually by our municipal auditor, Howard Allan, and for the past eight years, I have heard similar comments from Mr. Allan, who, by the way, is the auditor for the majority of Eastern Ontario communities. Let’s take a look at a checklist of development: -          Numerous small businesses in Industrial park North, -          Growth in South Business Park and Hooper Street -          Eastway Tank and Sam Bat chose to locate here -          Growth at Norcan Hydraulic Turbines, Dica, Rose integration and DRS to name a few -          Currently 15 sites for new residential development -          The redevelopment of the Market Square has been a boost to downtown -          There have been 9 new businesses open in the downtown in the last 6 months, 5 more planning to open in the near future, and a recently announced expansion of The Mews. -          Overall Assessment Growth for the past two years has been at $20M or 2%, and over the past 5 years, commercial/industrial assessment growth has amounted to 4.7% And of course – after getting our ducks in a row, we have hired Jasmin Ralph, our Economic Development Coordinator.  In the 6 months she has been on the job, Jasmin has worked hard to get to know the movers and shakers in economic development in the region, has worked specifically on having new signs created for each of the Industrial/Business Parks, and is currently working towards a new Town website dedicated to Economic Development.  Today, Jasmin is going to tell you about two programs that are important aspects of our Economic Development strategies. Ladies and gentlemen, your Council and Staff have worked hard with our business partners in the community to position Carleton Place to take advantage of and build upon the assets we have; we to leverage the most we can from these assets.  I am very pleased that so many of you chose to take the time to come today – it is truly a testimony to your support of the efforts of Staff and Council to ensure that progress benefits us all.