A citizen group called Kingston First (www.KingstonFirst.ca) is calling for more transparency and accountability for the tax dollars that go to KEDCO, Kingston’s economic development agency. They’ve provided data that suggests that a number of other cities in Ontario have economic development agencies with much smaller budgets. Here are my thoughts:
I fully support the approach of comparing Kingston with other similar cities, and seeing how we measure up. In fact, I’m in favour of making these same comparisons not just with economic development, but with all of our city operations. If another city is providing garbage collection or road maintenance or arena operations with greater efficiency or at lower cost, then let’s learn more about how they are doing it.
While comparing Kingston with other cities is important, we also have to make sure that we are comparing apples to apples. For example, in Kingston we include funding for tourism in KEDCO’s budget. Most other cities in Ontario do not. Once we remove tourism funding, KEDCO’s budget drops by almost 50%, which puts it much closer to some of the other cities included in the analysis provided by Kingston First.
Kingston City Council has determined six strategic priorities for our term, two of which are creating a smart economy and the fostering of open government. Exploring how KEDCO compares is a great opportunity to engage the community and discuss how we can set a new standard for economic development in the province and beyond.
I invite you to join the conversation.