Gary Goodyear, the minister of state for the federal economic development agency for southern Ontario, came to town Thursday dangling a $200 million carrot while serving up a bitter dose of reality.
“The industrial revolution’s over,” warned Goodyear. “This is the technology revolution. Manufacturing has to accept the fact that for them to remain competitive they have to use the lightest product.
“They have to use the fastest assembly line, they have to use the latest inventory software and all of these new technologies – many of which are developed here in Ontario – have to be purchased.”
Not only do businesses have to recalibrate, municipalities and their economic development corporations need to focus on the new reality.
Goodyear laid it on the line following a roundtable discussion with business and municipal leaders at the Elgin Business Resource Centre.
And, if you want a piece of the $200 million in funding available for this part of the province, Goodyear stressed “we obviously aren’t giving money out without an appropriate place for it to go.”
On a positive note, he observed over 60 projects from the London-St. Thomas region have applied for FedDev Ontario funding.
“These are all good quality job-creating initiatives and they’re long-term job creating initiatives, and that’s really the impact we’re after. We will say yes to those kinds of applications.”
Goodyear is hepped up on agribusiness, touting, “You can see the long-term economic benefit of utilizing something we already have, which is this strength in agriculture.”
It was only a half-dozen years ago that area producers established the Integrated Grain Processors Co-Operative to seek a welcoming community to house a 150-million-litre ethanol plant.
More than 840 farmers and community members joined as investment partners to pledge $45 million to launch the community-owned ethanol plant, the largest start-up co-operative venture ever attempted in Canada.
It was Aylmer that rolled out the welcome carpet.
“It’s really gratifying to be in a place like Aylmer where everyone appreciates the importance of farmers adding value to their original commodities,” praised Tom Cox, chairman of the IGPC board of directors.
As for St. Thomas, it turned up its nose at the thought of cashing in on corn and not cars.
It’s that type of mentality that will come back to bite you.
HERE’S THE PITCH
Included in this week’s council agenda is a letter from Paul Stafford, one of the driving forces behind the move to return Senior Intercounty baseball – more specifically the St. Thomas Elgins – to Emslie Field.
Paul is asking for the support of council to recapture the excitement created by the Elgins in the 1950s with the likes of Russ Evon, Ray Urban, Johnnie Ambrose and Tommy White.
Or, how about 1984 when the Elgins won the playoff championship – the last St. Thomas team to do so – with Matt Gooding, Lance Annett, Roly Foster, Neal Ambrose, Bob McQuiggan, Jacques Roy and Tom Johnston. That’s right, the alderman who will be in the council chamber on Tuesday.
You gotta love Paul’s clincher: “Let’s bring back the Elgins and repeat those crowds of 2,500 to 3,000 packed into our great park.”
A warm, summer Saturday night, the Elgins versus the Majors or the Maple Leafs, hopefully throw in a cold beer . . . ain’t life grand.
THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK
Excited to see an email appear in the inbox this week with the mention of R&B. We were intrigued by the prospect of conversing with a loyal reader (who shall remain forever anonymous) about music.
Instead the R&B is rant and bitch (their terminology).
A couple of insights are worth passing on.
“I was absolutely disturbed and upset today when I drove through the grounds of the St. Thomas Psychiatric Hospital,” the email read.
“As youngsters, we made ample use of the hospital grounds which were kept in absolutely immaculate condition,” our reader continues. “We had at our disposal baseball diamonds, tennis courts, acres of green grass for playing football, soccer and football. The old recreation hall was seldom used so we had our own private basketball court and Friday night movie theatre.
“It is difficult to express how shocking it is to see how the buildings and grounds have been allowed to deteriorate. The Empire of St. Joseph needs to be shamed for the travesty they have played upon the public. Could they not, at the very least, cut the damn grass?”
As to the new forensic facility, here is what is conveyed in the email.
“The new facility (without a fence) is bricks and mortars and, we presume, has rooms inside. The old hospital (largely abandoned by the look of it) has bricks, mortar and rooms … millions of dollars spent on newer bricks and newer (but inferior) mortar isn’t going to cure anybody. We, the taxpayers, are being had, once again.”
On a parting note, faithful reader observes, “Perhaps, at some time, there is some food for thought in what we say. If not, treat our comments as the R&B of old curmudgeons who have seen enough, if not too much, of our bureaucratic, chronically expensive, misdirected and perhaps corrupt society.”
To our loyal subscriber: We will treat your comments as wise observations from someone with a few more miles behind the wagon than remain in front of the horse, if that’s all right with you.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“It’s comparable to the birth of my daughter, and when they announced that I was the one that got the position I couldn’t believe it.”
Do you think Const. Sean James is excited to be one half of the city police service’s first canine unit? Of course the other half is Trax, who was officially introduced on Thursday.
City Scope appears Saturday in the Times-Journal. Questions and comments may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.Follow @ianscityscope