Toronto think-tank’s industry cluster model excludes mining – by Ian Ross (Northern Ontario Business – July 5, 2016)

Researchers at the Institute for Competitiveness and Prosperity sure didn’t do their homework in the eyes of Dick DeStefano, executive director of the Sudbury Area Mining Supply and Service Association (SAMSSA).

The influential Toronto-based think-tank released a working paper in late June highlighting five of the most impactful industry clusters in Ontario, and is recommending Queen’s Park put the right supports in place to recognize and strengthen them.

In its paper entitled “Clusters in Ontario – Creating an Ecosystem for Prosperity,” the institute focused on Windsor’s automotive industry; Toronto’s marketing, design and publishing companies; Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge’s “supercluster” high-tech triangle; Toronto’s financial services district; and the Niagara region’s hospitality and tourism sector.

Left off the list were the hundreds of companies and thousands of skilled jobs tied to Northern Ontario’s mining industry, and championed by SAMSSA.

DeStefano didn’t appreciate the snub of Northern Ontario, considering the industry’s impact in the region and the province’s economy.

“How can they defend the position that they’ve looked at major clusters and not accept the fact that there’s one in Sudbury?”

The institute is a not-for-profit, funded by the Ontario government, examining issues of provincial and national economic competitiveness, productivity and innovation capability. It’s chaired by Tiff Macklem, dean of the Rotman School of Management.

The institute’s definition of a cluster is a group of geographically close and interconnected companies, suppliers, service providers and aligned institutions, all of which exists in Sudbury, insists DeStefano, whose association has grown from three members in 2003 to 115 businesses and organizations today.

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