Sudbury’s way to the future – by Dick DeStefano (Sudbury Star – December 31, 2015)

I am a big fan of insightful and comprehensive community economic plans for Greater Sudbury, having chaired and participated in at least four such plans since 1970 that have fundamentally changed the direction of our community in preparing for the future.

The Greater Sudbury Development Corporation has recently designed a strategic plan (From the Ground Up 2015-2025) that could change the face of the community for the next 10 years if all sectors actively participate and contribute their energy and insights into implementing and supporting the efforts which this plan imagines and recommends.

The problem lies in the fact that very few people have read or even reviewed this important piece even though the plan, during the consultation stages, was led by a broad based 24-member steering committee. This document must be circulated and endorsed by the general public to be successful.

Decisions will be made at the Greater Sudbury Development Corporation board and city council that will dramatically impact our community in the years to come. The report must not sit on a shelf and become just another strategic plan that is swallowed up and buried by its lack of circulation and agreement amongst those who participated. It must be considered by all sectors as a promise to change the community and grow and expand its fundamentals.

The plan has some lofty goals and ambitious projects, and may be deterred by the economy and global influences. These deterrents are not insurmountable. The plan may be delayed, but could at least allow for partial solutions whenever possible.

The Everest Goal, highly profiled as a focal point, would see 10,000 net new jobs by 2025. This is based on hope and evidently based on an assumption that all sectors will grow incrementally. This may be an ultimate goal, but should be tempered based on the importance of the mining sector’s cyclical nature and the mining technology companies. The key to growth in our community needs to be based on evidence and history that is realistic.

“The vision is bold and ambitious and is intended to stretch and drive the community as it pursues its economic development objectives,” the plan states. “Reaching a goal of 10,000 new jobs would mean that our city has a stronger, more diverse economy and could result in 30,000 new residents living in our city.”

This is not an easy task.

The report contains much to be applauded. It is well written and contains multiple ideas and initiatives that are well documented and profiled. The accompanying charts in the study indicate who should lead, general time frames from short to long, and existing key sectors that could attract jobs and real wealth.

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