Wednesday, January 7, 2009

How Can We Improve the Local Economy?

From what I am reading in the media and hearing directly from people, many folks suggest that their most important challenge for 2009 will be the economy.

You may be or know of someone who has been laid-off or directly affected by the credit crisis. For others, the economy and negative talk around it appears more like a blackening thundercloud.

If so, what can we do to help improve the economy? What can the Town and the Region do?

Buy Local:

Especially during difficult times, it is important to support local businesses. Small business owners and employees are not only our neighbours and friends, but they also support the community’s sports teams, public events, local media, and new initiatives. Local businesses are the backbone of any community.

That’s why I am proud that the Town recently established a free Business Directly for all Pelham’s businesses. Developed in collaboration with the Chamber of Commerce and the Pelham Business Association, the Directory is available on the Town’s website at It is easy to use since you can search it either by business name or by category.

Improve Existing Businesses:
Instead of only focusing on attracting new ventures to Niagara, what about working to improve existing businesses? The Chamber of Commerce and I recently established a Pelham Corporate Visitation program. Through site visits and meetings, we will be working with local businesses to help determine what the Chamber and/or the Town can do to assist them – give additional information, make connections, advocate on their behalf with other orders of governments, etc.

Invest in Infrastructure:

A recent national study uncovered that $1 billion dollars invested in upgrading infrastructure public would produce more jobs and a better economic stimulus that a $2-billion tax reduction.

That’s why I have been pushing so hard at the Region to speed-up capital spending – roads and bridges, water mains and sewer lines. In fact, I am part of a small Regional committee working to accelerate the spending of the $120 million 2009 capital budget and of all outstanding projects that were taxed in previous years (like Hwy #20).

Similarly, the Town continues to focus on the Building Canada grant – to secure Federal and Provincial funds for revitalization of our downtowns. Would you believe that the $7.1 million of joint spending could generate 100 local jobs?

Working Together:
Pelham has a rich history of neighbours helping neighbours. If the economy worsens, let’s band together again for the benefit of all.