Timmins shows us how to do the job – by Brian MacLeod (Sudbury Star – November 1, 2013)

The Daily Press is the city of Timmins broadsheet newspaper.

Where is one of the bastions of entrepreneurial growth in Ontario outside of Toronto?

Why, it’s the sprawling municipality of Timmins. And a sprawling municipality it is. With 2,979 square kilometres of land, it’s one of the largest geographic municipalities in Canada, larger than a dozen GTA municipalities combined. It’s the city with a history of fur trading and mining, and more recently, of Sherry Tremblay, Canada’s Most Perfect Woman over 30, as named by the Canada’s Perfect Pageant.

And, of course, it’s the home of Shania Twain.

A Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses (CFIB) survey has put Timmins eighth in Canada for the last couple of years among mid-sized cities for its entrepreneurial zeal. The report on the subject by Ted Mallett, vice-president and chief economist of the CFIB, notes a few things worthy of note for municipalities bent on attracting jobs.

Most importantly, spend more time looking inward. While entrepreneurs are typically mobile, communities are rooted, so an entrepreneurial city needs to harness its own people’s strength. Most jobs are created by small businesses, and most of those small businesses are run by people who live in the community. But Mallett says economic development offices tend to spend a lot of time reaching out. The classic “chasing smokestacks” efforts are politically popular — mayors love to brag about attracting jobs — but it’s the jobs created by local residents that are the most sustainable. Companies know how to play municipalities against each other, Mallett says. And it’s not legal for municipalities to offer some incentives for businesses.

Timmins is a resource community and as such has a history of characters whose efforts to strike gold in business remain part of its milieu. The city’s namesake, Noah Timmins, established the famous Hollinger Gold Mine in 1910.

Mallett says local officials play the key role in fostering an entrepreneurial spirit that may already exist in the community. In an interview, he said key factors, including business versus residential tax rates, are vital. And interestingly, he said cities must demonstrate an “overt and very public display” that it is trying to reduce the turnaround time for approvals such as residential building permits.

For the rest of this column, click here: http://www.thesudburystar.com/2013/10/31/macleod–timmins-shows-us-how-to-do-the-job