Throughout the last year of debate and discussion about KEDCO, my position has always been clear. We need a new version of KEDCO – a new economic development agency with a renewed focus to position Kingston as a leader across the province and the country.
Economic development has changed significantly over the last decade; it’s less about attracting new companies to Kingston, and more about fostering innovation and entrepreneurship. We need to take advantage of the enormous talent and ideas we have right here and create an environment for companies to prosper and create jobs as they grow. We need a new agency to seize this tremendous economic potential.
Last night I along with the rest of council took the first step in creating a fresh start for economic development in Kingston. Collectively we are turning the page and moving forward with a number of transformative recommendations. Among those we will have a separate tourism organization and a newly structured economic development organization (EDO).
Throughout this process I have been impressed by the level of community engagement and the ideas generated on this issue. I’ve heard from thousands of residents, organizations, businesses and community groups with comments, suggestions and improvements. Although there are some differing opinions, one thing we all agree on is the need to move forward and get on with it. And that’s what we’re going to do.
Kingston’s new EDO will be very different from what we had in the past. It will be tied to the strategic vision I have been championing; to make Kingston a smart and livable city. Our new EDO will be arms’ length, but with more control and oversight from city hall. This is a new approach and a recognized best practice across the province.
But we’re just getting started. There is more work to be done as we move quickly to implement the necessary changes and position this new EDO on the frontlines of economic development in Kingston and Eastern Ontario. We will continue to look for feedback as we move into the implementation phase of separating these two organizations and developing their strategic focus.
There is a lot of talent and passion in our community about getting this right and it’s time to harness that energy to move forward. This is an important first step in uniting and moving us toward a common goal – making Kingston a smart, livable, 21st century city!