Below are my notes for the second prepared question at the Mayoral debate, hosted by the Fonthill Rotary Club on Wednesday, October 6, 2010 at the Royal Canadian Legion.
What do you consider will be the main economic engine in the Town of Pelham for the next 5/10/20 years and beyond? And, what is the Mayor’s responsibility in this regard?
Historically, Pelham’s main economic engines have been agriculture and trade, residential developments and affiliated services.
Recently, also developing other services and a retail sector.
But, have little to no manufacturing or industrial operations.
Really rely on the businesses in other parts of Niagara.
Rely on improvements and advancements at Brock University and Niagara College and other key employers.
Statistics Canada says that 76% of employment work force works outside of Pelham
Double rest of Region – where it’s 36%.
At same time, Town’s First Strategic Plan of 1994, suggested that Town ease up rules on home-based businesses.
Result: 10% of Pelham’s employment work force works from Home, average across Region is 6%. This highlights Pelham's innovative, entrepreneurial residents.
THIS COUNCIL’s Actions:
Decisions and investments so will revitalize Downtowns – draw people and businesses to the downtowns.
Some proposals in the Draft Official Plan and in East Fonthill Secondary Plans should provide additional areas for small and medium sized businesses to grow in the Town.
Downtown Transitional Zones – near Downtowns
Highway Commercial – along Regional Road #20
Not talking big box stores, here;
Look at businesses that have set-up shop out-of-Town because no location for them:
Royal LePage; JTG Computer Systems; Nauta Home Designs; Personal Touch Home Improvements; Select Coffee Roasters;
Main Economic Driver in Pelham over next 20 years:
Residential Sector and allied services:
From garden centres to flooring stores, from Mobility Niagara to financial services;
With Pelham’s lively and walkable Downtowns, great culture, and relaxed rules to establish home-based businesses, Pelham needs to become a leader in Niagara in the new economy … the idea / creative economy
The "Creative Economy" includes:
o Graphic designers;
o Writers and artists;
o Aeronautics – like Accipiter Radar Technologies;
o Bio-tech R&D;
o Environmental industries;
Will continue and expand on things already started:
1. Continue to work with Niagara Economic Development Corporation to promote Pelham to outside businesses:
a. Did that through new Economic Development website Pelham which was launched this summer
2. Expand current efforts with the Mayor’s Corporate Visitation Program:
a. current partnership with Chamber of Commerce:
b. Meet with local businesses, to discern what the Town can do or the Chamber can do so they can grow business;
3. Finally, I will also lead development of an overall vision and strategy for Pelham:
i. Not strategic plan for Town Hall;
ii. But, a strategic plan for the entire Town (and similar to the Mayor’s prosperity councils in other communities)
It’s clear that during the next 20 years, Pelham’s economy will continue to be dependent on successes of businesses across the Niagara Region;
Also clear that to survive, Pelham will need to focus on:
• the agricultural sector;
• services to the residential sector, and;
• encouraging more small, creative-economy, idea-based, home-based businesses to start-up and expand.