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Thunder Bay creates economic recovery team

City looking for ways to assist business in post-COVID-19 recovery
Thunder Bay (Port Arthur) aerial (CityofTBayphoto)
(City of Thunder Bay photo)

The path to post-pandemic recovery has started in Thunder Bay.

The Thunder Bay Community Economic Development Commission (CEDC) is creating a 16-member Economic Recovery Task Team comprised of commission staff and members of the City of Thunder Bay’s executive management team.

"The CEDC is leading the economic recovery effort in Thunder Bay,” said commission CEO Eric Zakrewski in a June 5 release.

Commission staff have already been reaching out to various sectors of the Thunder Bay business scene to survey owners on how the pandemic has impacted their operations and what the municipality to do to provide assistance.

This week, a local survey revealed most Thunder Bay businesses have experienced a drop in sales revenue due to the pandemic.

"The City of Thunder Bay is looking for initiatives that can be considered to help local business and industry recover as quickly as possible," said Zakrewski.

"We feel it’s a great opportunity to combine our efforts in the Economic Recovery Task Team and share information in real time with the objective of exploring innovative ways the City can respond and help business resume operations, change they way they are doing things and recover as quickly as possible.”

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Zakrewkski is chairing the task force. Joining him from the CEDC staff are Project Manager of Mining Services John Mason, Senior Development Officer Jessi Ruberto, Economic Development Supervisor Piero Pucci and Tourism Thunder Bay Manager Paul Pepe.

At the table from the city's executive management side are: City manager Norm Gale, Development & Emergency Services General Manager Mark Smith, Community Services General Manager Kelly Robertson, Infrastructure and Operations General Manager Kerri Marshall, Corporate Services and Long Term Care General Manager Linda Evans, and Corporate Strategic Services Director Karen Lewis. 

The CEDC is also earmarking $75,000 for its Starter Company Plus Program, aimed at helping new and expanding small businesses and entrepreneurs with training, mentoring and grants of up $5,000.

The funding from the CEDC's reserve fund will enlarge the program from 13 entrepreneurs to 15.

“To date, over 150 entrepreneurs have taken advantage of the training, tools, and resources provided by Starter Company Plus,” said Ryan Moore, development officer for the Entrepreneur Centre.

“This has been a great program that provides comprehensive training and has created or enhanced a multitude of businesses.”

Zakrewski added many starter company alumni are working in food and beverage, tourism, service and manufacturing sectors, creating hundreds of local jobs.

"We knew the Starter Company Program works; so I approached the (CEDC) board looking to expand upon the current cohort of new start-ups companies we are working with. The CEDC does expect these new companies to create job opportunities coming out of COVID-19 restrictions.”