The New “Cluster Moment”: How Regional Innovation Clusters Can Foster the Next Economy – Mark Muro and Bruce Katz (Brookings Institute)

The Brookings Institution is a nonprofit public policy organization based in Washington, D.C. One of Washington’s oldest think tanks – founded in 1916 – Brookings conducts research and education in the social sciences, primarily in economics, metropolitan policy, governance, foreign policy, and global economy and development.

Its stated mission is to “provide innovative and practical recommendations that advance three broad goals: strengthen American democracy; foster the economic and social welfare, security and opportunity of all Americans; and secure a more open, safe, prosperous, and cooperative international system.” Brookings states that its scholars “represent diverse points of view” and describes itself as non-partisan. – Wiki

The Obama administration’s FY2011 budget request (February/2010) proposed several initiatives to support American regional industry/innovation clusters. The budget request  document states, “We need to recognize that competitive, high-performing regional economies are essential to a strong national economy.” 

An except from a United States Department of Commerce, February 1, 2010 News Release states, “Competitive, high-performing regional economies are the building blocks of national growth and can benefit from smarter policies. The budget supports growth strategies based on stronger regional clusters of economic activity through funding in the Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration, the Small Business Administration (SBA), as well as the Department of Labor with other agencies in key support roles. As part of the administration’s place-based initiative, the 2011 budget provides $75 million in regional planning and matching grants within EDA to support the creation of Regional Innovation Clusters that leverage regions’ competitive strengths to boost job creation and economic growth.”

Mark Muro and Bruce Katz have produced an excellent policy paper on the economic value of regional clusters for the Brookings Institute. The Executive Summary is posted below. For the entire policy document please click here:


Twenty years after Harvard Business School professor Michael Porter introduced the concept to the policy community and 10 years after its wide state adoption, clusters—geographic concentrations of interconnected firms and supporting or coordinating organizations—have reemerged as a key tool and rubric in Washington and in the nation’s economic regions.

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John Pollesel, Vale Canada COO and Director for Base Metal Operations North Atlantic, Speech to Sudbury Chamber of Commerce – October 13, 2010 – Sudbury, Ontario

John Pollesel, Vale Canada COO and Director for Base Metals North Atlantic

John Pollesel is the Director for Base Metal Operations North Atlantic and Chief Operating Officer for Vale Canada, reporting to Tito Martins, Executive Director Base Metals and Vale Canada Chief Executive Officer.

John Pollsel has extensive management experience, specializing in the mining industry where he has been employed for more than 20 years. He joined Vale in August of 2008 in the capacity of VP Sustainability and Business Services for the Ontario Operations and in July of 2009 was promoted to the role of VP Production Services and Support for the Canada/UK region and General Manager for Ontario Operations.

Mr. Pollesel is a Fellow of the Society of Management Accountants of Ontario and a Certified Management Accountant. He graduated from Laurentian University with a Masters degree in Business Administration and holds an Honors BA in Accounting from the University of Waterloo.

Our objective is to create a sustainable, profitable and long-term operation in Sudbury – contributing further decades of employment, economic growth and community support. There is an important caveat, however. We must demonstrate our willingness and ability to become a more productive and efficient operation. Aspiring to the status quo is simply no longer an option. – John Pollesel, Sudbury, Ont.


Thank you, and good evening everyone. It’s a pleasure to have been invited to speak to you at your Chamber’s Annual General Meeting.

Vale is a proud member of the Chamber of Commerce and we’ve been active on the Chamber’s Board for many years. In fact, personally I was proud to have sat as a Board member a few years back.

Vale and the Chamber have enjoyed a very long and productive relationship together…the Chamber has been there for us during some tough times, and we’ve been there for the Chamber as an active partner on a number of fronts. It’s a beneficial and productive partnership that we look forward to continuing.

I want to especially recognize Debbi Nicholson, who has been an exemplary leader of the Chamber for more than 30 years.

Debbi – you lead with dignity, good business sense and a keen awareness of what is best for our community. I congratulate you and your team on all the things you’ve accomplished throughout your long tenure with the Greater Sudbury Chamber.

* * * * *

Tonight, I am here to speak to you about Vale and our future in the Sudbury Basin.

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Canada’s Business News Network (BNN) Profiles the World-Class Sudbury Mining Basin – Stan Sudol

Stan Sudol is a Toronto-based communications consultant, who writes extensively about mining issues.( Toronto-based Business News Network (BNN) is a Canadian cable television specialty channel owned by CTVglobalmedia. BNN airs business and financial programming and analysis. You can’t go anywhere in Toronto’s financial district without seeing BNN broadcasting on television screens. On September 17, 2010, …

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Northern Ontario’s Mining Supply Sector Worth an Astonishing $5.6 Billion – Norm Tollinsky

Norm Tollinsky is editor of Sudbury Mining Solutions Journal, a magazine that showcases the mining expertise of North Bay, Timmins and Sudbury. This article is from the September, 2010 issue.

A recently published study on the Northern Ontario mining supply and service sector confirms that it is a key engine of growth and a strategic asset with unrealized potential for the regional economy.

The Northern Ontario Mining Supply and Services Study, commissioned by the Ontario North Economic Development Corporation (ONE-DC) and carried out by Ottawa-based Doyletech Corp., estimated the total value of the sector’s output at $5.6 billion annually.

“The study firmly establishes the credibility and value of the mining supply and service industry in Northern Ontario by a third party,” said Dick DeStefano, executive director of the Sudbury Area Mining Supply and Service Association (SAMSSA). “Prior to the study, we had been using numbers we extrapolated from various sources, so this finally puts us where we thought we were and confirms that we’re one of the largest wealth creators in Northern Ontario.”

Funded by the Ontario Ministry of Northern Development, Mines and Forestry and by FedNor, the federal government’s economic development agency for Northern Ontario, the study identified approximately 500 companies and organizations with 23,000 employees that derive more than 50 per cent of their revenue from the sale of mining supplies and services. Counting companies that derive less than 50 per cent of their revenues from mining supplies and services boosts the value of the sector to close to $7 billion, said DeStefano.

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Sudbury Area Mining Supply & Service Association Creates Enormous Wealth for Northern Ontario – by Dick DeStefano

Dick DeStefano is the Executive Director of Sudbury Area Mining Supply and Service Association (SAMSSA). His column was originally published in Sudbury Mining Solutions Journal, a magazine that showcases the mining expertise of North Bay, Timmins and Sudbury.

The recent Doyletech study of the mining supply & service sector provided significant data indicating that this sector has close to 500 companies in Northern Ontario that sell more than 50 per cent of their products and services to mining companies. This is a large industrial sector within this important geographical region. Results demonstrate that this sector created more than 23,000 jobs and generated more than $5.6 billion in gross sales in 2008.

The six months of face-to-face interviews of over 150 companies established this industry sector as a vital contributor to wealth and employment in the four major cities of Northern Ontario.

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Mining Supply Sector Huge in Sudbury and Northern Ontario – by Marilyn Scales

Marilyn Scales is a field editor for the Canadian Mining Journal, Canada’s first mining publication. She is one of Canada’s most senior mining commentators.

We in the mineral industry often speak of “direct jobs” generated at mines and mills and “indirect employment”, those jobs as suppliers, manufacturers and consultants that spring up to serve the needs of the industry. We know that for every person directly employed by the mining industry there are several others indirectly employed.

Those numbers and others aspects of mining’s importance have been pinned down in a new survey prepared for the Sudbury Area Mining Service and Supply Association (SAMSSA). The Northern Ontario Mining Supply and Services Study looks at about 500 separate firms and organizations in what might arguably be called the “heart” of the mining sector.

The study found approximately 23,000 people are employed in the supply sector. That is a more generous number than the Ontario Mining Association came up with. But the OMA estimate of 480 direct mine jobs and 2,280 supply and services jobs in the province sounds too low by a factor of 10. The difference is probably due to differing definitions of what is a “mine” job or an “indirect” job. Either way, keep the multiplier effect in mind.

The SAMSSA study put a value of $5.6 billion on the supply and services sector in Northern Ontario.

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Export Market Intelligence/Network Needed for Northern Ontario Mining Suppliers to Succeed – by Dick DeStefano

Dick DeStefano is the Executive Director of Sudbury Area Mining Supply and Service Association (SAMSSA).

The recent Doyletech Study entitled Northern Ontario Mining Supply and Services – recently released placed a significant amount of emphasis in the value of the sector and its ability to create wealth and employment in Northern Ontario.

I was impressed with results that demonstrate that the 500 plus mining supply companies throughout Northern Ontario generate over $5.6 billion in sales and employees over 23,000 at peak times.

Notwithstanding the value of this enormous financial and employment footprint was the recommendation that an enhanced International Market Entry Strategy needed to be added to the existing Infrastructure within the Companies.

The first-order objective would be to assist sector firms and organizations enter export markets, through a shared-costs public/private partnership program that aided relevant organizations. 

As well, it would support optimum approaches in terms of partnerships, distributors, and product/service profiles. 

The three ways to conduct foreign market entry is by trade, contractual agreement, or direct investment.

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Realizing the Full Potential of the Sudbury and Area Mining Supply Cluster – by Norm Tolinsky

Norm Tollinsky is editor of Sudbury Mining Solutions Journal, a magazine that showcases the mining expertise of North Bay, Timmins and Sudbury. This column is from the May, 2010 issue.

The preliminary results from a study of the Sudbury and area mining supply cluster and its value to the economy of Ontario confirm the claims that Sudbury Mining Solutions Journal has been making since our inaugural issue in March 2004. We knew that the mining supply cluster in the Sudbury, Timmins, North Bay triangle was substantial in size and impact, but we would never have guessed that its value to the economy was a whopping $5.6 billion per year or that it accounted for some 23,000 jobs.

Sudbury, Timmins and North Bay may be big players in the mining industry, but they represent a very small percentage of Ontario’s population and can be easily overlooked on public policy agendas, both at the provincial and federal levels.

Hundreds of relatively small mining supply businesses failed to register in the public consciousness outside the region, but thrived in the shadows. Until the establishment of the Sudbury and Area Mining Supply and Service Association (SAMSSA) and the founding of Sudbury Mining Solutions Journal, the cluster was an uncoordinated and unheralded collection of independent businesses focused on doing their own thing. Coming together under the umbrella of an association and served by a journal dedicated to promoting their capabilities and innovations to an international audience, hundreds of disparate businesses are now part of something much bigger.

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Northern Ontario’s Dynamic Mining Supply Sector Accounts for $5.6 billion in Sales – by Dick DeSteffano

Dick DeStefano is the Executive Director of Sudbury Area Mining Supply and Service Association (SAMSSA). His column was originally published in Sudbury Mining Solutions Journal, a magazine that showcases the mining expertise of North Bay, Timmins and Sudbury.

A comprehensive survey of Northern Ontario mining supply and service companies supports earlier estimates that this sector is a significant wealth creator in Northern Ontario.

SAMSSA joined forces with a number of supporting partners to examine the importance of the mining supply and service sector and especially its claim that this mining support cluster is one of the most concentrated in the world. The partners included the Sudbury Area Mining Supply and Service Association (SAMSSA), the Ontario Ministry of Northern Development, Mines and Forestry (MNDMF), Ontario North Economic Development Corp. (ONE DC) and FedNor (Industry Canada).

The overall objective was to assess growth opportunities and outline a plan to realize them through concerted stakeholder action, both public and private.

Primary information for this analysis was complied by Doyletech Corporation over a five month period through interviews with 150 companies and three focus groups.

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A Special Day for Sudbury Area Mining Supply and Services Association in 2009 – by Dick DeStefano

Dick DeStefano is the Executive Director of the Sudbury Area Mining Supply and Services Association (SAMSSA)

December 10, 2009 was a special day for me.   Working with a small and determined group of invisible mining supply companies in the early stages of 2003 has now evolved into a viable, dynamic community of entrepreneurs making a difference in Northern Ontario and throughout the world.

Twenty centimetres of driving snow and frigid conditions did not prevent more than 90 SAMSSA members and guests from attending the SAMSSA annual meeting in Sudbury.

We all applauded our two SAMSSA Hall of Fame inductees, Peter Matusch and Ron Miller, both of whom were introduced by their sons.  We congratulated our slate of new board members and thanked those who retired.

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Mining Suppliers: The Invisible Aliens in the Movie Avatar and in Canadian Society – by David Robinson

David Robinson is an Economist at Sudbury’s Laurentian University

Outer space has more than its share of miners and no mining suppliers. I wonder how they do it.

You may not have noticed, but the highest grossing movie in history was a mining movie. Technical support for the industry was provided by the military. The mining industry lost. The supply industry didn’t even show. The movie was Avatar.

Sci-fi fans know that one of the main activities in outer space is mining. There are stories about asteroid mining, lunar mining, mining on Mars and on planets half a galaxy away. Mining provides a reason to be in space. Mining supplies everything you need to live in space.

Mining supplies water, precious metals, helium 3 for energy and exotic jewels to drive the most unlikely plots. Mining technology is used to blow up asteroids headed for Earth. There are claim jumpers in space and whole underdeveloped worlds run by cruel mining companies. Mining in space is something the sci-fi writers take seriously.

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Euphoria and the Mining Law of Gravity – by Norm Tollinsky

Norm Tollinsky is editor of Sudbury Mining Solutions Journal, a magazine that showcases the mining expertise of North Bay, Timmins and Sudbury. This column was originally published in December, 2008 edition.

Euphoria pretty well summarizes the state of the mining industry in 2008 and the mood in the Ontario mining cluster of Sudbury, Timmins and North Bay. Our cover story this issue provides an overview of the capital investments, the spending on exploration and the impact of all this activity on the region’s mining suppliers. It’s a head-spinning story, but anyone who has ever been on a roller coaster ride or has been in the mining industry for more than five years knows that life and commodity prices don’t always follow an upward trajectory.

The last time the world’s mining community gathered at MINExpo in 2004, nickel was selling for a little more than $5 a pound. It peaked at more than $20 in early 2007 and remained above $12 until May, when it started to slide. At press time, it was holding steady at a still respectable $8.

Storm clouds caused by the sub-prime mortgage crisis, rising oil prices and the woes in the auto industry notwithstanding, commodity prices are holding their own and the mining industry continues to invest.

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The Sky Hasn’t Fallen in the Mining Sector – by Norm Tollinsky

Norm Tollinsky is editor of Sudbury Mining Solutions Journal, a magazine that showcases the mining expertise of North Bay, Timmins and Sudbury. This column was originally published in December, 2008 edition.

Writing headlines for a quarterly mining journal can be a risky proposition. Such was the case with the headline, “Ontario firing on all cylinders,” emblazoned across the front page of our September 2008 issue. The story accompanying it trumpeted an exhaustive list of mine development projects and record-breaking spending on exploration. It went on to illustrate the effects of all of this activity on mining suppliers, the housing market and the wear and tear of the region’s roads.

“The general consensus,” the story noted, “is that the current supercycle, fuelled by the ascendance of China and several other rapidly developing economies, will endure for decades, with a few ups and downs along the way.”

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Outlook 2009 – Sudbury – When the Dust Settles Speech Prepared for the Sudbury Chamber of Commerce – David Robinson

Dr. David Robinson - Laurentian University Economics ProfessorLaurentian Economics Professor, Dr. David Robinson is Sudbury’s answer to Toronto’s high profile Dr. Richard Florida – the famous American urban theorist who garners media headlines and currently teaches at the University of Toronto. Robinson is recognized as the “Godfather” of Sudbury’s Mining Supply and Services cluster highlighting the importance of this dynamic sector in the early part of the decade. He was instrumental in spearheading the plan for the School of Architecture at Laurentian which is garnering public and political support and continues to help change public policy on a wide variety of economic initiatives affecting Northern Ontario.

The Institute of Northern Ontario Research and Development (INORD)

Copper Cliff, Ontario
December 4, 2008


Let me start by telling how this speech got its title. A few months ago I was asked what I would talk about. We had a stock market commotion going on, a Canadian election underway, and an American election too. So I said I could either use the speech that I used two years ago, or I could wait until the dust settled.

I obviously made the wrong choice. I had no ideas of the interesting and surprising twists that that a parliamentary system can provide. We have a temporary resolution as of 11:45 this morning that seems to tell us the government is likely to abandon the contractionary policies announced last week by Finance Minister Flaherty. The government will be forced to adopt a program much closer to that proposed by the opposition parties that make up the “Coalition.” That is good news for Sudbury, I would argue, and it brings Canadian policy in line with our industrialized partners.

When I came through the door today I had not yet heard of the reorganization announced by the city’s largest employer. Vale confirmed it will close its Copper Cliff South mine for an “undetermined period.” The company’s Voisey’s Bay mine in Newfoundland, which ships nickel to facilities in Sudbury for processing, will be shut down during the entire month of July. The company also put off the development of its Copper Cliff Deep project, deferring the expenditure of $138-million (U.S.) for at least a year.

Vale had announced on Wednesday it is laying off 1,300 workers and putting 5,500 more on paid leave. Layoffs by Vale, one of Brazil’s two leading companies along with state oil company Petrobras are being taken as evidence that emerging markets have not ”decoupled” from the US as some economists hoped.

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Dramatic Economic Times Impact Mining Sector – by David Robinson

Dr. David Robinson - Laurentian University Economics ProfessorDr. David Robinson is an economist at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Canada. His column was originally published in Sudbury Mining Solutions Journal a magazine that showcases the mining expertise of North Bay, Timmins and Sudbury.

For an economist, these are interesting times. The accumulating American triple deficit – on trade, the government budget and household spending – finally caught up with the people who live by lending. We get to see the most vehemently capitalist governments nationalizing banks and supporting the value of vast pools of imaginary assets. We even get to watch executives leaping off tall buildings with their golden parachutes.

For the mining industry and industry suppliers, the times are more than just interesting. Economic growth is utterly dependent on what the mining sector produces, and good times in the mining sector depend on economic growth.

The question on everybody’s mind as this column goes to press is whether the lunatics in the financial sector have actually pushed the world economy off the tracks. They have done it before.

The most common view out in the infosphere is that a world recession is almost inevitable. The majority of guesses say it could last six months to two years. There are a few who think the world will end, and a few who think that unprecedented co-operation among governments will have unprecedented results.

No one really believes that the long run story has changed. The BRIC nations – Brazil, Russia, India and China – still have the population, the potential and the momentum they had when Goldman Sachs identified them in 2001. They have been driving world growth, with help from the American consumer. Those BRIC consumers are just getting going.

Rio Tinto chief executive Tom Albanese reminded shareholders in October that China’s economy is driven far more by industrialization and urbanization than by exports to the USA. The company expects demand in China to strengthen across a range of Rio Tinto products.

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