Immigration, workforce and mining have become more of a focus in the Thunder Bay Community Economic Development Commission’s (CEDC) 2023-2025 strategic plan.
Jamie Taylor, chief executive officer of the CEDC, said they see that as a continued priority for the organization.
Efforts to gather information that would set the direction for the new strategic plan involved a public and business survey. Taylor explained that they asked people why they chose to live in Thunder Bay.
“That provided us with a little bit more qualitative information,” she noted. “We asked them to rank the importance of development goals, and in here, the results are really about jobs and quality of life. We asked about current strengths that best support centre-based economic growth and the top two answers in that area were natural resources and affordability of housing.”
Taylor pointed out that the survey was anonymous while some of the questions were directed at whether or not they were business owners.
“We do know that we had a mix of both people who (did and didn’t) own businesses in the community but we didn’t collect the age groups, if they were coming from a specific sector or if they were in school or not,” she added.
The new strategic plan, called Strategic Action Plan, Shaping a Sustainable Future, aims to support Thunder Bay’s economy through sustainable, innovative and community-driven initiatives while continuing to promote the city’s lifestyle. Taylor says the plan has five strategic pillars that include business support, natural resources, workforce and immigration development, tourism development and strengthening the community.
“Thunder Bay has so much to offer and when you think about it, we really have all the things that a big city has to offer, and it’s right in our backyard,” Taylor said. “You go to work and then within 10 minutes, you can be on the lake or you can be at the theatre. We have all those important components of a large city but at a smaller scale. . . . Yet we also are open to the big-city opportunities.”
Taylor says the CEDC is excited to be working with the large mining companies that attract investment to the city and develop the manufacturing that she says we need.
“It’s really about celebrating all the things that make Thunder Bay the great place that it is, but also ensuring the outside of Thunder Bay that we’re open for business and we’re prepared to capitalize on those opportunities,” she added.
Meanwhile, development is definitely trending, especially in the waterfront district where numerous entrepreneurs continue to open startup businesses.
“I think the waterfront development has really been a catalyst to the big-city feel that we’re seeing in downtown’s Port Arthur,” she said. “We hosted a group from outside of Thunder Bay recently in the Goods and Co. venue and the feedback that we got was, ‘We feel like we’re in downtown Toronto. We can do all our shopping here and there’s plenty of places to eat.’”
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