AMO’s Economic Development Task Force met on October 5, 2011 and received several updates regarding current work as well as a Case Study presentation by Delia Rieche regarding the St. Thomas Innovation Centre for Entrepreneurs.
Chaired by Marolyn Morrison, Mayor, Town of Caledon and AMO Regional and Single-Tier Caucus member, the Task Force received updates from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, the Economic Developers Council of Ontario, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, and AMO.

AMO President Gary McNamara was introduced and addressed the Task Force on the importance of economic development collaboration between municipalities in Ontario.

Inter-Ministry Community Development Initiative: The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing provided an update on the Interministry Community Development Initiative (ICDI) and other ongoing provincial economic development activities. ICDI is a “one-table” approach across provincial ministries to provide communities and industry with coordinated access to provincial economic programs and services. The initiative also gives communities and industry the opportunity to come together to bring forward ideas on regional economic collaboration.

Under the ICDI, there are five multi-ministry teams assigned to a region of Ontario that provide coordinated provincial support to communities facing economic challenges or those who are looking for assistance to develop an economic opportunity. The provincial Economic Transformation Teams (PETTs) or Northern Economic Transformation Teams (NETTs) in Northern Ontario, are comprised of representatives from several ministries who work together with a community to provide provincial assistance on economic development issues.

MMAH released its Ontario Municipal Program Guide at AMO’s 2011 Conference which will allow municipalities and community groups online access to programs and services related to economic development. The Guide provides direct access to online resources and contact information for ministry staff in their regions.

Economic Developers Council of Ontario: EDCO provided an update on its current activities to date. EDCO has received funding from OMAFRA to conduct research on regional economic development. The Monieson Centre, the University of Waterloo, and the Martin Prosperity Institute will be conducting the research. The results will be presented at EDCO’s annual conference in February.

EDCO is in the final stages of developing a manual on economic development that can be used by Ontario’s regions. EDCO is also developing programs for the Young Professionals Network to help young professionals in the field of economic development.

Ontario Chamber of Commerce: The Chamber provided an update on their pre-election work. They disseminated a survey to their members in August asking what they see as the most important policy issues in Ontario heading into the election period and beyond.

Three priorities emerged in their survey results: debt and deficit reduction; red tape reduction / working strategically across governments; and, reigning in government spending, both on the provincial and municipal level. Additionally, the Green Energy Sector was seen as an important area of growth over the next 3 to 10 years. Businesses identified infrastructure investments in the Greater Toronto Area as an important issue.

The Chamber acknowledged AMO’s election work around the Top 12 Ask checklist and identified priorities of convergence between the Chamber and AMO: provincial arbitration issues, the importance of infrastructure (roads and bridges), and fair energy policy.

AMO Election Priorities: AMO provided an overview of its priorities heading into the 2011 Ontario Provincial Election on October 6. AMO’s advocacy work for the election has been built around a “Top 12 Asks” checklist that highlights municipal fiscal capacity and other province-wide municipal policy issues across Ontario. The checklist was distributed to AMO’s members and has been the focus of the work that has gone into AMO’s Provincial Election website. The website generated interest from the provincial political parties as well as AMO’s members and the media.

AMO Annual Conference Overview: An overview was provided of the activities at the 2011 AMO Annual Conference hosted by the City of London and the County of Middlesex. A session on rural economic development was held at the Conference with a panel that comprised of the Rural Ontario Institute, the Monieson Centre, and EDCO. Feedback was asked of Task Force members for session ideas on economic development for future conferences and workshops.