While the Thunder Bay region has traditionally benefited from the large employment from natural resources and transportation industries, the worldwide recession in 2008 had a negative impact on the local economy and led to the loss of tax revenue assessment in the regional communities.
As the Budget and Finance Chair and with the support of council and Administration, the city was able to find $15 million in operational savings through continuous improvements and efficiencies and keep tax increases at around 2.5 percent while maintaining investment in services and infrastructure.
Thunder Bay region has survived the demise of the forestry industry and the loss of over 7,000 direct and related jobs. To a large extent, this was due to growth in the educational, health, transportation and other sectors of our economy.
Through my role on the Board of Economic Development, I have had the pleasure of working with the Port and Airport in getting a Business Improvement Designation for their lands, that provides financial incentives to business that invest there. For example, no property taxes over 10 years and up to the value of the building.
I believe that you Member of Parliament has an important role to play by working in collaboration with all major institutions and large employers in the city in growing our economy. I have already started this process and invited all major community organization at a Town Hall meeting to discuss such opportunities.
Like in so many other parts of the country, small business is now providing the largest employment gains and quickly becoming the backbone of our economy. This sector has the potential to transform our community by creating many needed jobs and helping develop a more reliant and diversified economy.
As your Member of Parliament, I will continue to help the business sector in our region through:
- Financial Accountability
Value for your tax dollars is becoming even more important in light of a slow growth economy not bringing in sufficient revenues to maintain taxes low while paying for infrastructure and services. As Budget Chair, I have consistently advocated for a renewed focus and effort in living within our means which helped the city achieve three years of financial surpluses during this term of council, compared to the previous three years of deficits.
- Need for a people-centric community development Attitude
While many tourism and economic development agencies or organizations strive to encourage development and growth, their efforts can be greatly enhanced by a coherent vision and plan from the federal government.
Our region can attract investments from outside and from within our own community, but in order to do so, we must ensure that our community development efforts put people first.
The small business sector needs a receptive, capable, and helpful Member of Parliament and federal government in order to grow and prosper. Our future as a viable community depends on it. As your Member of Parliament and with the support of other levels of government, we can “Awaken Thunder Bay Region’s Giant Potential“, address the above issues and help revitalize our region by bringing back its vitality, pride and prosperity.