Today, Mayor Christian Provenzano outlined his views on what Mayor and Council need to do to continue building a positive and welcoming environment for business in Sault Ste. Marie in order to spur new economic development and investment.
“It’s well understood that it’s not within the power of local elected officials to create jobs on their own,” said Provenzano. “We need to concentrate our efforts on ensuring we are keeping the costs to do business down, on listening to and addressing the concerns raised by the business community, and on positively marketing our community as a great place to invest.”
One action recently taken by Mayor Provenzano and City Council help business was through the introduction of a Community Improvement Plan (CIP). Through the CIP, commercial and industrial properties that undertake expansions or improvements that create new taxable assessment will receive a tax break. A successful CIP can incentivize new business growth and investment, while leading to more business assessment in the long term, which helps residential property owners too.
Under Mayor Provenzano’s leadership, City Council also showed its commitment to maintaining a low-cost business environment in Sault Ste. Marie by declining to implement development charges on new construction during the past term.
“While development charges are used by most Ontario municipalities and I understand their rationale, they just were not appropriate for Sault Ste. Marie,” remarked Provenzano. “With the economic uncertainty we faced, it didn’t make sense to impose more upfront costs on developers. We listened to the concerns of our local construction firms and made what I feel was the correct decision.”
Another area where Mayor Provenzano has been listening to local business is on the importance of labour force development.
“Being able to find workers with the right skills has been a common concern I’ve heard for the past several years from both potential new businesses and existing ones,” said Provenzano. “That’s why labour force development has been identified as a priority in the FutureSSM community plan. We need to train the next generation of workers, help the current ones learn new skills, and attract more working-age people to the community. In my role as Mayor, I also plan to help encourage partnerships between our business and education sectors, such as the one recently announced by Algoma Steel and Algoma University.”
Mayor Provenzano noted that there has been a string of recent successes in attracting and competing for new ventures to locate in Sault Ste. Marie, demonstrating that the current approach to economic development is finding success.
“Just within the last week news has come out that PLATO Testing will be opening a location in Sault Ste. Marie and looking to grow to 57 well-paying IT jobs. Other new business we’ve developed over the term include the Convergent energy storage facility and the Createch group, which operates a service centre for Microsoft. And of course, Sault Ste. Marie is now one of two finalists for the proposed Noront production facility, a once-in-a-generation opportunity that would be a billion-dollar development and would create hundreds of manufacturing jobs.”
“I am happy to have had the opportunity to work with and support these companies to create opportunity for our community. I know there is more work to do and with your support, I am looking forward to continuing to make Sault Ste. Marie an even better place to invest and do business,” concluded Provenzano.