EDC, the Innovation Centre and the City; what is going on?

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On March 7, 2016, city council passed a resolution requesting staff undertake an assessment of the city’s economic development and provide a report to council. On Dec. 21, 2016, city council received a report from the Deputy CAO, Community Development and Enterprise Services and a report/presentation from MDB Insight, an economic development consultancy firm, paid for by taxpayers to complete the assessment.

City council resolved that the MOU or memorandum of understanding with the EDC and the Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre, that were dated August 2009 and September 2009, respectively, were to be terminated.

There was nothing that would remain.

“Cut out the fat,” as city councilor Frank Fata talked about the matter back then. The two organizations were seen as bigger bureaucracies. Fata was not the only one to see, the EDC at least, in this light. Although all of council did not agree.

Tom Vair, executive director of the Innovation Centre, jumped ship to work for the city, on September 12, 2016, filling the deputy CAO spot.

CEO of the EDC Tom Dodds resigned from his position by the next year because of the new reorganization.

The city didn’t seem to want the EDC or the Innovation Centre to be on partnership with the city, formally, on paper, anymore.

Now things have changed I guess.

Now the city wants back in? I don’t know how to read this new memorandum of understanding. It says it has revised roles and duties, which could mean everything under the sun. They will have provisions to develop five-year plans and report to council annually. Plus new governance plans. Isn’t that what was done before?

“Ensuring governance moving forward is consistent for both organizations and that council has a role in appointing a certain number board members (not the majority) is consistent with other communities and appropriately recognizes the city investment in these organizations,” is what the city wants out of the deal.

Both MOUs for the Innovation Centre and the EDC are appearing as separate bylaws to be passed on Tuesday’s City council meeting.