The Greater Sudbury Economic Development Corporation (GSDC) laid out its economic recovery strategic plan to city council, April 13.
The plan is a response to the impacts that COVID-19 has had on the local economy, placing a focus on supporting small businesses and organization.
Brett Williamson, Greater Sudbury director of economic development stated that more than 11,000 jobs were lost in the city last spring at the outset of the pandemic. While nearly half of those jobs were regained in the fall, momentum toward full recovery has been hampered as the province deals with the third wave of COVID-19.
Four themes were outlined in the GSDC plan, with varying timelines between 12 months and 18 months and beyond for implementation.
The themes are:
- Continue to grow Greater Sudbury's workforce
- Support local
- Supporting our Downtown
- Encouraging Greater Sudbury's business growth and development
Speaking about the second theme, Williamson said that through a number of community consultations over the past months, supporting local business has been mentioned on a number of occasions.
"We've heard that there is a need for enhanced marketing of local business," said Williamson.
The plan highlights an action item to support and invest in ‘buy local’ and sharing 'buy local' messages with the networks of individual GSDC board members.
Some examples would include sharing content from economic development social media channels, posting social media content, and tagging economic development channels and writing blogs.
Support for the city's arts and culture sector was also a key factor in the GSDC plan, with board chair Andreé Lacroix stating, "there's no doubt that our cultural sector has been hit hard."
The plan calls for investment in enhanced marketing and promotion of the arts and culture sector for events that can still proceed during the pandemic.
There will also be a closer look taken at the city's Arts and Culture grant program for 2021 to determine any opportunities for temporary changes to operating guidelines in order to provide some more flexibility and support to the sector.
Coun. Joscelyne Landry-Altmann spoke after the presentation, noting the importance of attraction and retention in order to strengthen the city's economy.
"We need to promote ourselves, we need to be touting our successes," she said.
Coun. Geoff McCausland raised concern about the recent widespread cuts at Laurentian University and how it might impact the city's ability to attract people from across Ontario and beyond to Sudbury, as well as its impact on Laurentian employees who may be out of work.
Council added and approved a motion following the GSDC presentation that will direct staff to help facilitate a process that will assist displaced Laurentian University employees in finding employment in the community.