London’s Economic Road Map is one step closer to getting done.
Business leaders and City of London staff, including Mayor Matt Brown, gathered at the London Convention Centre to discuss the themes London wants to focus on making London an economic drive.
The first draft saw businesses, the community and elected officials fill out surveys about London and its economy.
They survey found transportation (Highway 401, 402 and the location of the borders) and the different sizes of businesses proved to be strengths for London.
Public transit, labour force gaps (the lack of tech employees in the city), youth intention, limited of collaboration on economic development, limited profile with the provincial and federal government, brand strength and awareness of the city are considered weaknesses that London is dealing with.
Common opportunities the people who were surveyed found that the branding of the city, emerging as an entrepreneurial area and attracting the talent were found to be opportunities London could take advantage of.
The survey showed Canada’s economy seen as volatile, manufacturing employment, federal and provincial budget constraints and regional competition to be threats to the City and its economy.
They found five key themes they would like to see developed.
- Position London as a centre of excellence for medical innovations
- Fostering a supportive business environment
- Provide enhancements that ensure a high quality experience (a revitalized downtown)
- Position London as an entrepreneurial city
- Address the attraction and retention of a skilled work force
The CEO and General Manger of Downtown London, Janette MacDonald, believes the revitalization of the downtown and attracting talent (includes having Fanshawe College and Western University graduates staying) can help each other out.
She says having Fanshawe campuses downtown is a great way to do that.
“Those are the students that will be more integrated into the fabric of downtown. There won’t be much in the buildings to keep them in. They’ll have to come out and be clients. Hopefully they’ll want to live in the downtown. There’s a lot of affordable housing going up in the area.”
MacDonald says they biggest thing is getting the youth and students to be part of the downtown for many reasons.
“We need them to be a part of the downtown beyond just the bars. We need to introduce them to the City, the culture, the entertainment, even the volunteer opportunities and part-time jobs then it stems into start-up businesses and hopefully that can keep them here.”
She says supporting graduates with ideas can help the London a lot.
“Direct an amount of funding to that. Try investments and initial investments. Put some key funding aside for the start-ups. Be open to providing space for them to try and start up their ideas. It can’t be all up to the public sector. I really foresee a public-private partnership and doing just that.”
She says London needs to adjust to the changing times.
“We use to have all of the head offices here. When that changed, so did the flight to the bigger cities. We need to be that big city people want to be in.”
The third step of the Economic Road Map will discussed with the business leaders and Mayor Matt Brown in September. This will be a draft of more in-depth details of the five themes.
The Economic Road Map is expected to be finalized by the end of the year.