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Boosting local economies improves Ontario's competitiveness, says chamber report

Ontario Chamber of Commerce wants governments to strengthen regional capacities
Downtown Sault Ste. Marie (File photo)

The Ontario Chamber of Commerce wants government policymakers to take a "modern and comprehensive approach" on economic development in Ontario by producing a collaborative strategy that supports long-term growth in all communities.

The chamber has released a new report on how government at all levels can work with industry to "unleash" regional economies and improve the province's competitiveness.

The Great Mosaic: Reviving Ontario’s Regional Economies examines the opportunities and challenges faced by communities across the province and offers a framework for thinking about the present and future of Ontario’s regional economies.

Among the recommendations is that governments can upgrade transportation and energy networks, modernizie regulation and business support, offer dynamic education and training opportunities, and encourage labour mobility.

The chamber encourages building regional capacity for innovation by improving commercialization and technology adoption, strengthening regional innovation centres, expanding broadband internet access, and facilitating cluster development.

“We are only as strong as our weakest link and our ability to prosper depends on the strength of our different regions," said Ontario Chamber of Commerce president-CEO Rocco Rossi in a statement.

"Economic and population growth rates in the Greater Golden Horseshoe and Ottawa have far surpassed those in other areas of the province. Our communities – and the province as a whole – risk falling behind if we do not leverage the rich and diverse competitive advantages of our local economies.”

Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce CEO Rory Ring provided input in the report on matters concerning his community, "specifically adding insights to the research from Indigenous economic inclusivity, the Ring of Fire, the importance of infrastructure investment and transportation such as short line rail and water."