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economic developmentHub Staff

Saugeen Shores first Economic Development Strategic Plan gained council’s support when it was presented by Aileen Murray of Mellor Murray, Gaudet & Associates, 360 Bespoke consulting firms, during the Committee of Whole January 8.

The Strategic Plan focused on a commitment to enhancing and sustain economic potential for businesses and entrepreneurs while Saugeen Shores experiences its ongoing population and economic growth.

From the 2016 census (2011-2016), the population in Saugeen Shores population rose 8.3 percent, compared to Owen Sound at a loss of 1.6 percent in the same period.

Other notable information included in Murray’s presentation stated that 33 percent of Saugeen Shores residents work in the Utilizes Sector with a high concentration of residents working in Tourism, Retail and Personal Services. Forty-four percent of Saugeen Shores households bring in over $100,000 income per year, 18 percent higher than the Ontario average and 72 percent higher than Owen Sound, while 12 percent of Saugeen Shores households report earning $200,000 per year.

Forty-four percent of renters in Saugeen Shores spend more than 30 percent of their income on shelter which is almost on par with the provincial average at 45.7 percent.

The presentation outlined five goals to continue the economic development momentum that has seen brand name companies open up shop in Saugeen Shores due to the Utilities Sector association. They are:

1: Business Growth and Investment - building on and establishing sector strengths to attract and expand business

2: An Entrepreneurial Culture - programs and partnerships that educate, mentor, incubate and finance entrepreneurs and start-ups

3: A Rich, Diverse Talent Pool - target residents and worker attraction programs to support business needs

4: A Resident and Investment Friendly Community - develop infrastructure and programs to facilitate business investment growth

5: Economic Development Capacity - provide human and financial resources and leverage partnerships to implement the economic development strategy

The presentation outlined a course of action to achieve these goals including reviewing supply and demand for employment land, expediting permit and development processes and creating a full time economic development staff member.

The Plan also noted threats and opportunities that could arise in the future.

The threats included a dependence on a dominant industry as a threat to that industry would impact local economy, and an aging population as it can make it harder to find and start workers for lower wage sector jobs. Complacency was also mentioned as the growing nuclear industry could take the focus off other economic activity and opportunities within the community.

Possible future opportunities included attracting national brand name companies, nuclear service companies looking to diversity, and a growing interest in fossil fuel alternatives. Also mentioned was a move towards locally produced agriculture and a potential to attract international tourists.

Following Murray’s presentation several councillors had their own inquiries and wishes for the future of Saugeen Shores. Councillor Dave Myette said he was excited about the plan and hoped that in the future there would be education facilities for the utilities sector brought to Saugeen Shores, citing a lack of post secondary education as a reason that many people leave the community. The councillor also also hoped that the strategic plan would identify a rise in affordable housing opportunities for residents working in the service sector.

Councillor Neil Menage said that there were plenty of unemployed and highly educated people currently living in Saugeen Shores that could find job opportunities by bridging industrial opportunities.

Mayor Mike Smith said that there is a “great opportunity here” as Saugeen Shores has advantages that other communities don't have. “So I think we’re in a great spot to take advantage and see some great things in our community,” said the mayor.

income profileA Saugeen Shores income profile as presented within the Saugeen Shores Economic Development Strategy to Council January 8.

education profileAn education profile of Saugeen Shores compared to Ontario and Canada.

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