The Oakville Chamber of Commerce released A Roadmap for Business Success, a campaign outlining the Oakville business community’s priorities for the upcoming 2018 municipal election: Business Competitiveness, Transportation, Recruit and Retain Talent, and Innovation. Over the next four weeks, the Oakville Chamber will be releasing Mayoral Candidate statements highlighting the candidates’ vision on how they would address each of the four pillars, kicking off today with Business Competitiveness.
What is your plan to strengthen business competitiveness in Oakville?
As one of the most educated communities in Canada, Oakville offers business a highly skilled professional workforce on the doorstep. Our commercial property tax rates are some of the lowest in the GTA and we have ample employment land for development. Oakville is known for its livability and ranks as one of the best places in Canada to raise a family. However,to keep our local businesses moving forward, takes more.
This year, Oakville achieved ISO 37120 platinum certification from the World Council on City Data (WCCD). This is a crucial first step in creating an expanding portal of data that can drive development of new technologies, optimize business processes and enhance research to make data-driven decisions and solve complex problems.
The prospect of a Lifesciences Campus, to be built in close proximity to the new hospital is moving closer. Such a hub doesn’t just create collaboration. It becomes a competitive cluster. Physical co-locating of firms creates an economic zone that shares infrastructure, inter-firm learning and collaboration that can continually feed innovation and improvement.
At the local level we are continuing to improve infrastructure through renewal of local roads and the planning of additional parking in our commercial business areas. Regional projects include widening and improvement of Region roads and updating of storm sewers to adapt to climate change.
Lastly, we continue to nurture relationships with city and regional representatives from both China and India to pave the road for new business opportunities.
Make Economic Development a Town Priority Again
For 12 years, the current Mayor has paid lip service to economic development and Oakville has developed a reputation as a difficult and very costly place to locate a business. Our Town has the highest office space vacancy rate in the GTA and has suffered the departure of major companies like: Tim Horton’s, Manulife, Shredit, Mattamy, as well as many small and mid-sized businesses.
As Mayor, I will champion economic development that attracts more professional, high tech, office employers and businesses to Oakville so more people can work closer to home.
Help Existing Businesses Create More Jobs
As the Chair of the Oakville Chamber of Commerce, I met a wide array of businesses. One of the issues I heard over and over was that businesses wanted to expand and create more jobs in Oakville, but their plans were curtailed or abandoned because of the onerous regulations and punishing fees levied by the Town. As Mayor, I will demand a full review of all Town fees levied against business expansion.
Enable Local Companies to Compete Equally for Town Contracts
Oakville has some of the brightest and most innovative companies and entrepreneurs in Canada. As Mayor, I will work with Council and Town procurement to stop small companies from being shut out of Town business and enable them to compete on an equal footing with major multi-nationals. These businesses benefit the whole community, creating local jobs, paying Oakville taxes offering local knowledge and expertise.
Business competitiveness requires a lower business tax rate (not just for BIA’s) & municipal incentives and partnerships. The Chamber of Commerce business membership also agrees. Competitive business practices also requires an integrated transit plan to provide another means for a local skilled workforce to travel to, and from – a workplace, in today’s environment, often on a 24 hour basis. My electric transit zero-emission plan is part of that strategy and will encourage local jobs & sourcing opportunities, plus an infrastructure build-out that is modern, technical & innovative. Local education & training & market opportunities (e.g. skills, trades, computer science, engineering etc.) must be integrated with local business and Chamber member’s, to help sustain and grow a businesses footprint. Our locality, promotes cross-border market opportunities, in conjunction with provincial & federal partners. The “borderless” electronic age also permits business to locate further away from customer’s – provided shipment time or service delivery is only an incremental cost. Additionally, “red-tape” reduction, affordable housing and less road congestion are key factors to competitiveness (and within the Town ‘s control as they created these problems. Also, government training or incentives are critical to innovate, update and increase local employment, plus grow & foster partnerships with supply chain partners and customer markets. Transportation, infrastructure and “free parking” for local customers all contribute to a more competitive business environment for Oakville. The Mayor & Council have failed to keep Oakville competitive, rather at times, political opportunists more interested in their own “re-election”, not Oakville’s economic or social future..