I read an article recently that stated, “Instead of looking to bring back the jobs of the past, we need to focus on encouraging and welcoming the jobs of the future.” We’re lucky to have over a thousand forestry, wood product and paper manufacturing jobs in our community still today (according to a report recently received by the City). But those jobs are down from almost 2000 a decade ago, and several thousand decades before that. We must continue to support our industry because many in our community rely on it to support their families. But we can not ignore the reality that these industries are in decline. It’s time for a Shift in Focus and a plan that sees our new jobs creation efforts focused on industries that will bring stable employment for our future generations. It’s time to really dial in on what new industry needs and create a landscape locally where they can thrive.
Bold Approach to attract and support business and new industry
We need an approach to jobs that is intentional and realistic for today’s industries. Acting out of desperation creates a desperate community. I want to build a thriving community. We need to Shift our Focus to small and medium sized employers. For too long we’ve focused solely on mega projects and ignored the potential that smaller employers bring. My intent would be to focus on attracting specific growth industries through incentives to those industries specifically. Here are some examples:
- Advanced manufacturing
- Clean tech
- Technology and cyber security
- Ship building
- Small-scale wood manufacturing
- Home Healthcare
- Prefab home manufacturing
Strategically located industrial park
In my time on council I’ve seen opportunities pass us by because we do not have land available that suits the needs of today’s small sawmills, plants, etc. We need to adapt to the needs of today’s industry.
- Small parcels
- Located away from residential neighbourhoods
- Easy access/transportation in and out
98% of businesses in Canada are small-businesses and 70% of Canadians are employed by those small businesses. This is a Shift in Focus badly needed by our community. We have overlooked the value of small business in our community for too long. Now is the time to recognize the potential of small and medium sized businesses. Small business is not just ‘ice-cream shops and retail store’s. It’s boat repair, mechanic shops, restaurants, offices, etc. Here are some steps I’d advocate taking to for attraction of new small business and support of existing.
- Review bylaws and regulations to streamline business licensing
- Clarify process around commercial space set up and implement clear set of guidelines for entrepreneurs
- Review area-specific zoning to ensure it’s appropriate and then enforce bylaws and zoning consistently
- Create micro-block projects for Uptown and Johnston Road to improve atmosphere noticeably one block at a time and encourage spaces on that block to fill
- Review our current development incentives for business and amend them to attract businesses and investment to specific areas where that investment is targeted rather than blanket incentives across the board
- Work with Business Enterprise Centre closely
- Create incentive program for commercial landlords who wish to bring their buildings up to code so they are ready to lease to new business
Our population is aging faster than the provincial average. That means seniors are moving here at a faster rate than other communities. The data on this presents an opportunity for our community.
- Create an attraction strategy for private seniors housing based on new trend of baby boomers selling homes on Mainland and moving to Port Alberni (data to be provided by local real estate offices)
- Support the expansion of local home care businesses
- Support non-profits in their efforts to attract seniors care homes through BC Housing by donating land whenever possible