Friday, March 27, 2009

Greater Sudbury and the Green Economy: What We Have to Offer

(originally posted at S.A.G.E.: Sudbury Advocates for the Green Economy, Facebook Group)

The Toronto Star trumpets: “1,200 green jobs in the works for Kingston”. What can I say? I’m very happy for Kingston, a City with a population of about 120,000, located approximately 3 hours away from Toronto. Seems to me that building high-tech solar panels using cutting-edge robotics will benefit their municipal economy by providing employment opportunities with very good wages. That’s what the green economy is all about.

And Kingston appears to be strategically positioned to take advantage of the green economy. It’s a medium-sized Canadian city with good access by road and rail to other markets (notably Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal via the rail corridor). It has a number of institutes of higher education, including Queens University. It has a highly-trained workforce in place. It’s a good place to raise a family, as home prices aren’t as silly as they are in the Greater Toronto Area, and just outside of the City are many opportunities for recreation. It’s got that Quality of Life thing going on.

All of what I just wrote about applies equally to the City of Greater Sudbury, except that part about the 1,200 green jobs coming to town. But what’s ultimately good for Kingston can as well be good for Sudbury, because the more the message gets out that the green economy isn’t just about businesses in Toronto, the stronger that message becomes.

The City of Greater Sudbury, in many respects, is already investment-ready. We’re lucky enough to have a lot of planned infrastructure already in the ground. We have a tremendously skilled workforce on which to draw on. We have Laurentian University, College Boreal and Cambrian College to form business partnerships with (and they’ve been doing a decent job of it already). Our City has become a centre of excellence for the arts community, and remain a top tourism draw. We have access to markets across Canada with the Trans-Canada highway going through town, and more importantly for the Green Economy, we’ve got access to both of Canada’s major rail lines. We’ve faced a significant environmental catastrophe and have emerged stronger and greener as a result.

A lot has been going on to attract new business initiatives to our City, and those sorts of activities need to continue. We can’t lose sight of the successes we’ve already had. But nor can we rest on our laurels. Largely, we remain an undiscovered secret in Ontario, and in Canada, even though we have so much to brag about.

And we need to start doing some of that bragging, which can translate into economic opportunities such as that to now be enjoyed by the people of Kingston. Our business leaders, our municipal councillors, and all other leaders within our community need to continue to trumpet Greater Sudbury’s successes to potential investors, and actively engage green businesses with the goal of selling them on Sudbury’s incredible advantages.

I often hear from my fellow citizens that Sudbury has nothing to offer, that there’s nothing going on here. I want to tell them to open their eyes and look at all that is going on here, from the high-tech discoveries made at the SNO-lab in Creighton Mine, to the expansion of the arts community, downtown revitalization, the development of the Centre for Excellence in Mining innovation, green building initiatives, the reforestation of a whole community, Science North...the list goes on and on. Most other cities in Ontario would be extremely jealous of all that we have to offer our citizens and business community. If they’re not jealous already, it’s only because they’re unaware of what we’ve got going on up here.

Let’s continue to talk-up our town, and make connections with the business leaders of the green economy. Surely only good things can come of that.

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