Many of you will know me from my time as President of the Bay of Quinte Tourist Council for 6 years. In that time, I pushed for a broader regional marketing strategy and collaboration that encompassed the entire region we live in, which stretches from Brighton to the west to Napanee to the east, South Hastings County to the north, including Madoc, Marmora, Tweed, and Prince Edward County to the south. Each of us in the region has strengths that complement the rest, whether that be the strong military community in Quinte West, tourism in Prince Edward County, infrastructure in Belleville and much more. We simple are not big enough without this region to amass the weight in marketing needed to compete with bigger centres in Ontario and need to work together to attract skilled jobs, younger family growth, immigration, innovation, and doctors, nurses, and specialized professionals, and entrepreneurs.
Belleville is the centre of this great region, and needs to act more as a leader in regional growth. As a region is in imperative that everyone understand that we rise and fall as one.
We have to see more collaboration, not silo building, in this region or we simply will not rise to the highest level we can achieve. We need to work together on our shared challenges, to which there are plenty.
As councillor, I will make sure that Belleville works hard to work collaboratively with our neighbours on specific areas that are shared and that will be mutually beneficial and essential to our regional growth, including Belleville.
Three areas I believe we can work on immediately and more specifically as a region are infrastructure development, skilled labour, specialist, doctor recruitment, and immigration attraction, and Rural Innovation.
Infrastructure development needs to focus on projected ideal growth; ideal being that we currently have a growth rate that is less than ideal and we need to set targets that see growth that sustain our budgets and population base (that pay taxes). This includes water, sewer, highways and high speed internet access.
Skilled labour attraction including skilled trades, doctor recruitment and specialist attraction, and immigration attraction are important to work together on. We can come up with strategies and work together to fill these shortages.
Rural Innovation is work regionally to support entrepreneurship, start-ups, acceleration, and venture capital investment in order to assist with entrepreneurial job creation and expansion. This is work not only done by QuinteVation, in Belleville, but First Stone Venture partnership in Prince Edward County, Launch Lab, out of Kingston, Start-Up Bay of Quinte in the whole region, Loyalist College, Trenval, PELA, and angel and partnership investment and networking happening in pockets throughout the region.
Belleville can lead the charge in regional collaboration. We can see a rising tide raise all boats, and see this region grow strong with all of our partnerships. I look forward to working on this on Council if I earn your vote in the upcoming election.