Over the last year Kingstonians have raised an increasing number of questions and concerns about KEDCO, Kingston’s economic development agency. Concerns and questions have centered on a lack of transparency to the public, a call for more accountability to council and taxpayers, and how KEDCO compares to economic development agencies in other cities.
My position on KEDCO is this: I believe that the agency has done some great work to advance economic development in Kingston, but there is also much room for change and improvement.
KEDCO should be congratulated for its recent success in attracting international companies like Iron Mountain and Frulact to Kingston. But we must recognize that the economy in Canada and in Kingston is changing and competition for attracting and retaining business is steep. The methods and strategies to achieve economic growth are shifting. And so, now is the time to reinvent KEDCO.
At this past Tuesday’s council meeting, KEDCO representatives made it clear to council that they understand the imperative to change. Interim CEO Donna Gillespie announced a review of their mandate, operations and the structure of their organization. This review will be led by a committee made up of city councilors, KEDCO board members, community members and experts that will bring best practices from other communities to the table. The review will also include public consultations to seek feedback from the community. I hope this public engagement will be an opportunity for all interested to share their thoughts on the best path forward.
I am optimistic moving forward and I am looking forward to seeing what comes from this review committee. Ultimately, I want to see an economic development agency in Kingston that is on the cutting edge – not only in its methods and strategies to attract new jobs and investment to our city, but in its ability to communicate its efforts and results to the community.
My vision for Kingston is to be a smart and livable, 21st century city. This vision includes having a strong and innovative economic development agency to put our community on the map as the best place to live, work and do business.