Entries in economy (13)

Tuesday
Dec162014

Policy Forum 2014: celebrating community to reinvent local democracy

A recent discussion about “Reinventing Local Democracy” at Policy Forum 2014: Connecting the Dots suggests that we should energize democracy through community building.  The discussion participants were participating in the policy forum hosted by the Young Professionals Group (YPG) of the Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce with about 45 business and community leaders.  The event was held November 27th at the Holiday Inn Waterfront Peterborough.

The policy forum was based on an article by best-selling author, economist, thought leader and current Chancellor of Trent University, Don Tapscott. The article called “As Toronto dithers, Guelph sets sights on 21st century” was first published in the Toronto Star on Friday, October 17, 2014.  It identifies seven key areas for improving a community: 

  • Promoting Entrepreneurship to Achieve Prosperity 
  • Open Government
  • Turning Public Safety Inside Out
  • Rethinking Transportation 
  • Creating a Sustainable City
  • Transforming Social Services
  • Reinventing Local Democracy

So far in this series we have revealed the table discussions on entrepreneurship and open government. Entrepreneurship wrapped up with a call for a coordinated strategy.  Having an official strategy would allow all interest groups to map out a united front on entrepreneurship the community can present to its own residents, the province and beyond. 

Open government made six recommendations in total including two quick wins: 1. Putting the councillor
handbook online as a guide to government for all residents and 2. Use external language vs. internal language to communicate better with residents and businesses. 

Reinventing Local Democracy

The table participants lead by newly-elected councillor Diane Therrien identified the following concerns as
barriers to municipal politics: 

  • a lackluster attitude toward voting and some issues; 
  • trust in government officials 
  • the balance of representation on city council

The group felt the best chance for success was through exercises that engage the community and that build up community spirit. They felt that democracy is about being active – active physically and mentally in the community and identified the following opportunities for Peterborough: 

  1. Parallel council 
    This mock council would be made up of people reflecting all ages and segments of our community and would make “decisions” on the same issues as the elected council.  
  2. Youth
    Taking any and all opportunities to encourage young people to find and pursue jobs and/or careers that are in demand in Peterborough.   
  3. International Students 
    More encouragement and programs to keep Trent University and Fleming College international students in Peterborough 
  4. Continued community dialogue
    This can happen in a variety of ways, according to the group:
    Town Halls: Mayor Daryl Bennett encouraged councillors to take up these kinds of initiatives in his inaugural address to the 2014-2018 council on December 1, 2014.
  • Council meetings outside of council chambers
  • Referendums 
  • Social Media

5. Areas to promote: Trail system, waterway and public square

The table participants felt that continued promotion of these public areas increases a sense of community and the end result of which is a community more in tune and engaged in its local government.

In the article by Chancellor Tapscott he wraps up the “Reinventing Local Democracy” section with a suggestion to move from an “us vs. them” relationship to “we’re in this together.” Interestingly enough, it’s a sentiment gaining ground in Peterborough City and County Councils, and community and business associations such as the Chamber of Commerce as we head into 2015. In the Chamber world, we lobby governments for improvements to the business climate municipally, provincially and federally. To do this we find strength in being the collective voice for our member businesses.  Peterborough, City and County, it seems that the time is ripe for collaboration and energizing democracy in the Peterborough area. 

Comment through the “Peterborough Chamber” group of LinkedIn

Tuesday
Dec162014

Collaborating for success: a Peterborough partnership for progress

The partnership may have been formed with a certain amount of happenstance, but the end result is a gateway to a new generation of manufacturing in Peterborough.  

The players are PKA SoftTouch, a Peterborough company and Chamber member working toward actualizing a painless needle; Steelworks Design Inc, a Peterborough company and Chamber member who developed and constructed the micro-needle’s drug capsule production equipment; and Westmount Pharmacy, the Peterborough pharmacy with a sterile facility in the Banting Legacy Hall to house the production equipment.

“We didn’t know that Westmount had a sterile facility and stumbled upon it by word of mouth from a supplier,” says Dick Crawford, PKA Chair of the Board and CEO. “With the space being in Peterborough, it closed the loop for us and signifies a huge leap forward to actual profitability.”

PKA’s small and inexpensive Micro-Needle is a unique device that lets patients inject only into the skin layers where there are no nerves and no pain. It would be used for the treatment of chronic diseases such as diabetes.

“It’s great to see the micro-needle get some real traction and take off the way we thought it always would,” says Don Barnet, Steelworks president. “You really feel like you are part of something special, developed right here in Peterborough.”

“The new drugs coming down the pipeline are a perfect fit with this technology,” says Murad Younis,
Westmount Pharmacy attesting to the need for this kind of medical device in the market. 

Crawford says they would start the production runs for the clinical trials with three employees, including a supervisor and quality control, but the facility can accommodate up to eight.  The partners are already thinking into the future.  “If it takes off and goes to market in a big way we hope to build a factory around the device.  This means a huge project for us and a big win for Peterborough,” says Barnet.  

Also helping the company find its place are the CFDC, which approved grants for research and development, and the Greater Peterborough Innovation Cluster.        

Comment through the "Peterborough Chamber" group of LinkedIn. 

Wednesday
Nov192014

Buying locally in a click-of-a-button, cross-border kind of world

‘Tis the season; and it really couldn’t be a more fitting season to wrap up the Peterborough Chamber of Commerce’s LoveLocalPtbo 2014 Campaign.  The Chamber has spent the year encouraging people to tell us about their adventures at local businesses in Peterborough through the Twitter hashtag #lovelocalptbo. At the upcoming Christmas PBX (Tues, Dec 2) at The Market Hall Performing Arts Centre, the 30 Chamber members who brought the campaign to life will be recognized and one lucky Chamber member will be the winner of a $1000 shopping spree at the sponsoring businesses.   

While the #lovelocalptbo campaign had a fairly lighthearted feel, the underlying message couldn’t be more serious.  As we see our Facebook and Twitter feeds fill up with photos of cross-border shopping trips and exclamations of amazing deals, it’s a stab to the heart of a local economy.  “I’m not saying you shouldn’t see the world, load your friends into your car and have a weekend jaunt,” says Stuart Harrison, President & CEO, Peterborough Chamber of Commerce.  “My last two summer vacations were spent in the Eastern US on my motorcycle. But even if I’d been driving a truck I can assure you it would not have been loaded with flat screen TV’s, diapers, and running shoes when I crossed back into Canada!”  

The reason for staying local when planning the purchases or gifts at any time of the year is simple “small
business contributes significant amounts of money to charity, sponsorships of festivals and events,” says Harrison. “In addition, the roads and bridges, and much of the recreational, artistic, and historic infrastructure, provided by Municipal Governments through taxes, would be seriously diminished without small business.” 

The Chamber isn't the only organization with this message. Many retailers, Lansdowne Place, the Downtown Business Improvement Area are creating programs to promote shopping locally this holiday season. 

According to a report released in 2013 for Small Business Week by the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC), five consumer trends will have a permanent impact on Canadians’ buying habits and create growth opportunities for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). 

The report identifies five consumer behaviours—the buy-local movement, rising health awareness, frugality, mass customization of goods and the impact of the Internet—that have emerged as a result of advances in technology, changing demographics and the 2007– 08 recession. However, the research shows that entrepreneurs have not embraced all trends equally. Some SMEs have begun catering to the increased demand for healthy, well-priced local products, for instance, but e-commerce has been slower to catch on. In fact, the Canadian online retail presence remains largely underdeveloped and, as a result, e-commerce has lagged behind that of most other nations, with some of the lowest penetration levels in the developed world. 

Of all the consumer trends, the buy-local movement has been the most powerful. Close to two-thirds of Canadians say they have made an effort to buy local or Canadian-made products in the past year, and two in five consider local production an important factor in their buying decision. 

The research shows that consumers who buy local do so for economic reasons: 97% of Canadians do it to support the local economy, 96% do it to support local farmers and 93% do it to create local jobs, while 87% think it is better for the environment. 

BDC’s study also found:  

  • Half of Canadians consider the health impact of a product when making purchasing decisions and one-third are willing to pay a premium for healthy products. 
  • The Internet is much more than an online purchasing tool; it is now embedded throughout most product purchasing journeys. 
  • Seven out of 10 consumers have reduced their spending since the recession, and two-thirds consider the lowest possible cost the most influential factor in their purchasing decisions.

“Should retailers ignore the desire of Canadians to get more for their money?  Absolutely not, they need to take more responsibility for the problem of cross-border shopping and do what they can to keep customers shopping locally at home.  This should be achieved through enhanced customer service, warranty servicing and more competitive pricing,” says Scott Stuart, Kawartha TV & Stereo and Chamber member. “At the same time, Canadian consumers shouldn’t be let off the hook.  They need to know that circulating their dollar in their home community keeps themselves and their neighbours employed, and this benefits local economies.  Dollars spent in Canada will also ensure that we continue to enjoy health care, a strong social safety net and many other benefits.”  

Legislation on the price gap is anticipated this fall. In its 2014 budget, the federal government has made consumer-focused measures a priority, including the idea that consumers “should not be charged more in Canada for identical goods that sell for less in the United States, unless that price difference reflects legitimate higher costs” (Federal Budget 2014, p. 175). But what can it do to reach that goal? First, it can reduce costs for consumer goods by lowering or removing tariffs and by relaxing the supply-management restrictions on products such as cheese, chicken, eggs, milk and yogurt. Second, it can raise the maximum value of goods that Canadians can bring into the country without paying any duty.”  (CD Howe Institute Commentary 409 May 2014)

The reality is that there is real economic damage done when people consistently spend their money out of the city, across the border, or online, in a way that has zero impact locally. 

“Your (the consumer’s) buying power is a form of democracy and your buying choices will have a great impact on the community where you live,” commented Dave Dawson in an editorial for the Orillia Packet & Times Friday, November 14, 2014.  Interestingly enough the comments on his editorial ranged from complete agreement, to store owners not being open during events in the business core, to not being able to find the exact item desired, to cost of travelling out of town whether it’s the next town over or the across the border.

In 2008, the Peterborough Chamber of Commerce ran a public service campaign called the “Think Campaign”.   The tagline was “It’s your choice, just stop for a minute and think about it.” Think about whether or not there are any true savings, think about the local retailers and think about what kind of community you want to have. 

Comment on this article through the "Peterborough Chamber" group of LinkedIn.

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